Using Facebook to help connect the dots in a family history is a long shot. But long shots and coincidences abound in many genealogy search successes. Just ask Cecilia Farran of Lone Rock.
In the early 1900s, Cecilia’s grandparents owned a southern Wisconsin farm and ran a door-to- door milk delivery. This is a well-documented family story, but she wondered if there was more.
Though the family dairy ceased operation decades ago, the farming tradition continued until 1999 when her family’s 225-cow herd was sold to a Condon family who operated a farm near Horicon. Cecilia is related to a Condon line, but no one had ever connected the dots to this specific family.
Sensing there might be more to the story, Cecilia turned to Facebook. After eliminating several possible Condon connections, she found a Facebook page for the Condon Dairy Farm in Horicon. That led to a phone number and an hour-long phone conversation, unusual for a farmer in the busy time of summer. Cecilia recalled Bob Condon on the phone saying, “Just a minute. Let me shut this tractor off so I can talk.” And talk he did!
“Discovering the family connection was a delight for both of us,” Cecilia said. But the added joy was finding that the common thread of farming had continued full circle with the addition of her family’s cows into the Condon herd.
As a well-recognized storyteller, Cecilia now has another chapter to add to the original oral tradition: “Bob, too, is a storyteller. He grew up on a farm that had once been owned by my grandparents, and he shared oral history passed down from his father. It dovetailed perfectly with the data my family had assembled from Ancestry.com, old clippings, court records, photos and other sources. Bob brought a sense of living tradition and it all began when I asked if there wasn’t more to the story and then did a chance check on Facebook.”
Cecilia gives this advice for fellow family historians: “If you have an inner nudge to check something out, do it. Think boldly. Think like a storyteller. You never know what might be unearthed. And, when all else fails, try Facebook. You might wind up with a long-lost relative who stops his work to regale you with an oral history, well kept, and now shared from the seat of a tractor on a sunny summer day.”
Doris Green authored “Elsie’s Story: Chasing a Family Mystery” and “Wisconsin Underground: A Guide to Cave, Mines, and Tunnels In and Around the Badger State.” Both are available from http://henschelhausbooks.com, Amazon, or, your bookstore. Contact Doris at https://dorisgreenbooks.com.