You never know what knowledge will be useful to you as you try to trace down your family members. Who would ever have thought it would be knowledge of fruit? Mike describes how he planned a family research trip on which he is about to embark:
"I am prepping for a trip to N. Ca and into Oregon and Washington. In Washington, I will be visiting at least 2 of 3 first cousins I've not seen in 55 years. I started looking for them in one of Dave's first classes when I learned about ZABASEARCH and Google-Maps; 2 of the 3 had relatively common first names, and I only knew the third as "Buddy" and the searches never revealed a Buddy. Finally, my aunt in Santa Maria revealed that he and his wife always sent her a box of fruit (apples and pears), and she thought his real name was "Merrill". So, I sat and figured the only area that coincides with apples and pears simultaneously is the north west USA so I narrowed things down and finally found Merrill in Vancouver WA. He told me his next younger brother Bob, also lived there in Vancouver, and the youngest lives in Great Falls, Montana and may be able to get to WA, so I am planning to have a nice reunion."
"These cousins I am going to visit apparently visited with my father's half sister in Fresno, although he did not know of her until about 1950 or so; she was the child of my dad's father and some other woman after my dad's mother tossed him out for fooling around with her "best friend" shortly after 1910. Aunt Ruth died in Fresno about 10 years ago and I have not yet tracked her death certificate down to get the name of the woman who was her mother (my grandfather's second wife or mistress); the clan appears to have been very secretive about who did what with whom and there is little written that I have found. So far, nothing about grandfather after the 1910 census, and a pointer to his death shortly before 1920. I am hoping the cousins may have some info that their father (my dad's brother ) maintained and perhaps I can get more family links confirmed."
Check back in a couple of weeks for an update on Mike's quest in the Northwest.