Friday, November 18, 2011

Serendipity: A visit to the old homestead

I never imagined just how far "cousin bait" would take me. Several months ago, I got a blog comment from a heretofore unknown - to me - second cousin once removed. We corresponded over e-mail for a while about the Mulcahy family, our history, and the story that my great-great-great-grandfather had built the house where our family had lived for 3 generations, before it passed out of the family. My new cousin Patty headed out to the Brooklyn Historical Society to do some research, and here's where the real serendipity comes in.

Imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail from Patty saying that she hadn't found much in the records . . . but that the person who signed in above her at the front desk had given her address as exactly the house we were researching.

Patty went ahead and copied down the e-mail address she had provided, got in touch with her, and two weekends ago, on a Sunday, we went down to the home where my great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother were both born, and got a private tour of the entire building, given by a current resident!

Our family lived in that building from at least 1876 until at least 1930. In 2011, we were able to see, in one of the apartments, that there have since been substantial renovations. There were moldings on the ceiling that didn't follow the walls, and decorative ceiling medallions that were bisected by walls that hadn't been there when they were installed. We saw the laundry poles in the backyard, though we weren't sure what they were. (We guessed correctly, as it turns out.)

The people who live there now were incredibly gracious, and let us see multiple apartments. The resident we who was acting as our tour guide took us around and knocked on the neighbors' doors, and they were all unbelievably nice, and interrupted their Sunday afternoon to let us poke around in their homes. I couldn't believe how lucky we were! It was one of the most exciting moments in my genealogical journey, and I still can't get over the serendipity that brought it about!