Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Roadblocks and Breakthroughs

I was recently given a request from my husband's niece, asking me to help her locate her biological father's family. She knew very little information to assist me. Except that she thought her father had been adopted.

And so, I went off in search of this man. While I found several listings for him in the Texas Public Records, none were up to date or recent.

Then our niece told me she thought she had two half-brothers. She gave me a couple of names to go on.

So, I found their addresses, and proceeded to write my very professional, but simple letter of explanation of who I was, what I was doing, and for whom. I sent these out with a postage paid reply envelope inside. And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

In the meantime, I began to pore over records in the Texas repositories. Here I located our nieces mother's marriage to this gentleman. As well as two other marriages for him. I also located the birth of the two half-brothers. And there were some not-so-flattering newspaper articles regarding this gentleman's behavior in the past twenty years or so. But there wasn't a clue as to who his biological family was.

I had the names of his adoptive parents. And so I began to play with their names, and this gentleman's rather unusual middle name. "Alberg". I wondered if there was a chance it had been his mother's maiden name? Or perhaps his father's?

I was rewarded with finding that the last name of Alberg was his adoptive mother's middle name. Hmmm. Was the name given to him on adoption? Did he already possess that name when he went to this family?

I continued to dig. Hoping beyond hope to find some breakthrough.

I did discover that Hazel Alberg came from a rather large family. This is noted in the 1910 and 1920 Census for their area. Hazel had 4 sisters and 3 brothers. This meant the possibilities were wide open!

And so I began the tedious task of tracing out each one of these individuals. All the while, working solely on a hunch.

I discovered that between 1921 and 1930 Hazel's parents both died, and left the children as orphans. The oldest 2 were grown and married, and helped to take in as many of the younger children as possible. Hazel went to live with her older sister, Alice, who was married to Roy Burch. I found Alfred, who was born in 1911, living with his mother's brother, Charles Tingue. Two of the younger children, Nettie and Emma were living with a family named Whiting [I am still trying to determine if there was a familial relationship or not]. And the two "babies" Eva and Bob, are unaccounted for at present.

I kept working on a hunch, and began to fill out as much as I could on these children and their descendants.

And then it happened. A small letter with 2 names, and a newspaper article from 1990 arrived in the mail. One of the half-brother's wife answered my letter!

Two names were in the letter. Alfred Alberg and Mary Belle Hurlburt. These were the parents of my niece's biological father. The newspaper article gave me further information on his mother's family, so that I was able to continue that research, leading back to 1818 with the Hurlbert's. And Alfred Alberg? I had been following a hunch, and had been already uncovering the facts for the correct family all along!

I learned a very valuable lesson in working on this project. When you have a hunch, or feel a need to follow a certain path, go ahead and do it. You never know! You just might be on to something that will break through those brick walls and lead you right to the facts you need most!

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