Since I thought of starting this blog I have been wondering precisely why I want to find my lost cousins and who will benefit when I do. Am I being driven by a purely selfish urge to add more details to my family history? Worse, am I simply a snooper, poking my nose into other people's business on the pretext that we share a few strands of DNA? Or is it just sentiment, a mawkish desire to recreate a seemingly happy family?
The truth will, of course, lie somewhere between these extremes. Naturally I am striving to find out as much as I can about my family's history and I recognise the importance of tracing as many sources as possible. Records and documents may build the skeleton of our family research, but people's memories help flesh it out and different points of view re-energise your research. So, yes, I am after my lost cousins to mercilessly plunder their documents, their photographs and their recollections. But I am happy to reciprocate (perhaps too happy - I do tend to go on!) so it is not entirely selfish.
Perhaps I am just nosey, hoping to find a celebrity amongst the distant relatives, or perhaps to measure my success against theirs? I can definitely say, no, to that! I am way too cynical to imagine that there will be an celebrities in the family and I couldn't care less. As long as my cousins are healthy and happy, I am glad for them. Several of us have become friends and we stay in touch via email and phone - I am delighted that we have a connection beyond a shared pair of great-grandparents. Some of my cousins do not wish to participate in my great cousin hunt to any great degree, and that's OK too - I am not going to hound them.
I have already written about my attachment to the Brown branch of my family - it runs deep. So maybe this is what it is all about - I want to recreate that moment in time, forever captured in a precious photograph, when the Brown family were whole, happy and hopeful, before emigration and war split them apart. It's true, that would be a marvellous achievement, to reunite all the descendants of my grandfather's siblings. But I know it won't happen, I am too much of a realist. What I can do is reunite all our memories, all our documents, all our photographs (and our addresses!) and gather them all together in one place so that our descendants don't have to wonder who is missing from the family fold. That's my goal, that's why I am cousin hunting.
H C Rickard
4 weeks ago