You start of researching and are happily finding past ancestors right left and centre and then you come across a living relative. Then you start thinking should I contact them. It’s a difficult question to answer. There are so many things you have to consider. Will they want to be contacted? Will contacting them cause problems in the family? You may want to get to know them, but your immediate family may not want you to as they know more about what went on than you do. How far do you want to take the contact? Do you just want to email back and forth or do you want to meet up? Just because you do doesn’t mean they will.
I know first-hand this is a difficult one to answer. My Grandma left home when she married my Grandpa and never went back. He brother had left home at 16 and she never saw him again (or so we thought until I found a photo which shows them when they were older).
When I first saw this photo the other week I assumed the man on the left was Edith Staton (in the middle) future husband. But then I thought Edith was only a young teenager. So I downloaded a piece of face recognition software and compared this gentleman with the man of Edith’s wedding and it wasn’t the same man. So I though, it must be Grandma’s brother Fred.
Fred was born in 1905 and Grandma was born in 1912. In July 1918 their mother Eva Dent died from an appendicitis and peritonitis after having a laparotomy 2 days earlier. A year later their father Percy Staton remarried. He married a 21 year old when he was 41. From what I can gather the 2 children did not like their step mother (and who can blame them from letter I have that she wrote to her step daughter). Edith was born in December 1919 and was the only child of the couple.
Now from my research I know Fred had 2 children. I know who they are but should I contact them? My dilemma is will they want to be contacted. I assume they know about their aunt, but I don’t know that for certain. It may be that if I contact them it may cause problem as they may have been told different things by their father and have a different view of the family. This brings up another dilemma as I don’t want to cause problems within the family. I can only go on how I would fell. I would like to be contacted.
In fact I have been contacted. Last year I was contacted by a lady in Australia whose mother is my late Grandma’s cousin. In 1924 when he was 16 Edward Wardle left Sheffield and moved to Australia. Here he led an interesting life to say the least as I found out from my new cousin.
I felt so wonderful to be able to email back and forth with my cousin and get to know about a family member who appeared to disappear. I fascinated me how much we were able to fill in the blanks for each other and how little each side knew about the other.
I’ve also been contacted via both my website and Ancestry by people who share common ancestors with me and they too have been able to help me fill in the blanks as I have for them.
I suppose you can only go with your gut. I never have made contact as I have to consider what others may want, but when I’m contacted I think it’s wonderful. It can take a lot of soul searching to make contact, but you have to be prepared for your contact to be ignored.