Close Encounters of the Genealogical Kind

Feb. 10, 2011

Just joining us? Read the previous post to get caught up.

Luckily for me, the Blosser family had passed down my grandfather’s name, so it was relatively easy to locate my cousin Alton Kent Blosser III. (A task made even easier with my secret librarian superpowers.) I dialed his number and waited nervously for Kent to come to the phone. Remember: I still had no idea if the Blosser family even knew about Dad. Turns out they didn’t. A.K. Blosser Sr. had quite literally taken that particular secret to his grave.

To his eternal credit, my cousin Kent didn’t hang up on me. He listened to my story with interest and curiosity. He asked lots of questions, but he was very friendly and open. I e-mailed him some pictures of Dad, both recent ones and some from when he was younger. I told him Dad had offered to provide what little documentation he had if the family wanted to see it. The documentation turned out to be unnecessary. Dad looked so much like his father that the truth was obvious.

Kent told me he would go see his father, who lived about 30 minutes away, some time in the next few days and would get back to me. As soon as I hung up, I immediately called Dad to tell him how the conversation had gone. We proceeded to spend the next few days on pins and needles waiting to hear back.

Finally, Kent called to tell me that his dad had known nothing about my father but would be contacting him soon. Over the next few weeks, Dad and Kent Jr. wrote back and forth, getting to know each another. I know Dad was anxious to meet his half-brother but didn’t want to push himself on anyone. (This is a recurring theme with my father, if you haven’t noticed.)

Fast forward from April to August. I logged on to Facebook one day and was surprised by several new friend requests — from people named Blosser. Apparently word had spread to the rest of the extended Blosser clan. As I mentioned in a previous post, Alton Sr. had three children: A.K. Jr. was born first, followed by Marshall and then Bonnie. Bonnie and Marshall, sadly, passed away, but their families were alive and well and astonished to learn they had an uncle/brother-in-law they knew nothing about.

I think many people would’ve greeted this kind of news with skepticism, but not the Blossers! They were absolutely thrilled to find out about Dad, especially Marshall’s family, who wanted to meet him as soon as possible.

Last October I had the privilege of accompanying my father on the trip to Kansas to meet Marshall’s family. Dad was nervous as we drove up to the house, but his new family ran to greet him almost before he could get out of the car. What followed was two days of laughter, a few tears and a lot of great conversation.

For Dad this connection with his family was an unexpected gift, a small measure of healing for a scar he carried for eight decades and never expected to live to see. For Marshall’s family, meeting Dad was like getting back a little piece of the father they loved so much and lost too soon. And that big empty spot on my pedigree chart was suddenly filled with an embarrassment of riches!

But this story still isn’t over. In a week I’m going to take another trip with my dad, this time to Florida to meet a brother who thought he had buried his entire family. Which just goes to show you that no matter how old you are, life can still hand you some pretty big surprises. Thank goodness.

— Nancy

Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Nancy Shively of Skiatook, OK. Read all her posts at Family Tree University.

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