I admit to sometimes getting so caught up in finding ‘facts’ and sources that will help with my family tree stumps, that the stories get lost.
Or maybe just overlooked for a while.
The most recent of these was Sarah Lane.
I’d been trying to ‘connect’ the members of a family for a while; the children of James Lane. Birth and baptism records confused things (as they sometimes do), showing their mother as ‘Mary’ on some, and ‘Ann’ on others – all with no maiden name.
But I had a hunch they were connected, and had come across quite a bit of information to support that they were all siblings.
I’d found marriage records where they appear as witnesses to each others’ weddings, other records or newspaper articles where they appear as ‘Aunt’, ‘Brother’ or ‘Brother in Law’ to each other (and their children), and even birth records of their own children where good old Uncle William steps up as the regular informant (we really like him).
In my ‘I really want this to be true, and besides – I have a gut feeling’ way, I even figured that since the first daughter’s name was Mary Ann…so was mum’s. On some records she used Ann, and on others, Mary.
See – simple
when you’re trying to convince yourself!
Then I found a record for Sarah from 1844.
Or, Eureka!, if you prefer.
In my very excited state of mind, I went into fact mode:
- Father James Lane – check
- Sisters Mary Ann and Jessie – check
- Living at Arthur’s Seat – check
From this I went from strong hunch to pretty darn sure in minutes (all very technical Ancestry terms, of course). I could now tie at least six children to ‘my’ James and Mary (Ann) Lane.
Facts are so lovely.
But then…someone who had been (very generously) helping me with another ‘stump’ asked if I had seen Sarah’s Headstone.
I hadn’t, but looked it up. And found this:
You see, the record was an Inquest into Sarah’s death.
Sarah, Jessie and Mary Ann Lane headed off for Sunday School at the Ouse Bridge that day – as they no doubt did on countless other Sundays. Mr Thomson, a school teacher whose class it was, had no idea there had been an accident until Mary Ann came running to him and said “Mr Thompson, my sister is on fire.”
Sarah’s dress had caught alight, and she was very badly burned. This ‘little inoffensive child’ died a short time later.
So while I had finally tied members of the Lane family together, I had also – for a moment – forgotten to appreciate their stories. Forgotten to stop and remember them.
I will no doubt still occasionally get swept up in all of those lovely facts and eureka moments, but for now am reminding myself to stop and smell the roses.
Like Sarah, the sweetest rose of all.
Photo of Sarah’s headstone from Gravesites of Tasmania