Treasure Chest Thursday ~ Doubt Social Networking Benefits Your Genealogy?

I am here to tell you otherwise!

I have blogged before about cousin connections I have made through Facebook and my blog. This "Treasure Chest Thursday" I would like to share with you not an item, but a very gracious cousin who has given me many pieces of treasure! I met this cousin online in a round about way through Facebook, yes, the social networking site!

I was first contacted by a new cousin in N.Y. who found me talking about my Westby line. She forwarded me to another cousin in Minnesota who actually forwarded me to yet another cousin on Montana, whom I will be calling "Westby cuz."  "Westby cuz" and I have been emailing back and forth for close to a year now, sometimes several times a week. Such an amazing blessing is "Westby Cuz!" She is the true treasure!

"Westby cuz" has shared many family photos with me. Every photo has included a bit of history regarding the picture or person in the picture. Ninety nine per cent of the pictures have been labeled and dated also, can you believe it? I now have pictures of Westby relatives that I didn't even know existed. 

Remember all of the scanning I have been doing lately? Over a thousand of those scans are from the Westby line of my tree. "Westby cuz" has been helping me ID the unknowns in those photos. She has been graciously adding to my family tree and filling in some of those gaps. I am hoping some of the scans I am now able to share are new to "Westby cuz" and she can add them to her family tree.

A couple of days ago I was informed of the death of an aunt's husband, which made for a very solemn afternoon, as you can imagine. Later that day I received an email from my "Westby cuz" which had me doing the happy dance! Talk about up and down emotions that day!

So, what gave me the happy dance? Well, I have seen the name Ole Westby all over the internet when searching my Westby line. I have seen trees with Ole in them, inquiries regarding Ole, and Ole listed in several census reports. I have always felt that somehow this Ole must fit into my tree. I emailed "Westby cuz" a scan of a photo of Westby headstones I found in the old album above. Guess whose name was on the headstone? Ole Westby! I asked if she knew who it was. But of course she did! Ole was my ggrandfather's brother! Another photo of a headstone from that album, had "Thelma"  hand written on it. Neither "Westby cuz" nor I  knew who Thelma was, until now. Now that Ole has been connected, it looks as if Thelma may have been Ole's daughter in law. The pieces are coming together!

Because of this, another bit of family information has emerged that I was unaware of. Many times I have read about cousins marrying cousins and some of the strange and confusing connections within families. I never expected to have any of this within my family tree, but it looks as if there is! I have been informed that my ggrandparents were cousins who married each other. In fact, I was also informed that there may actually be more "crossed" connections there as well. The first connection explanation that was sent to me, I actually needed to draw out on paper to understand it, but I do now! To make matters more confusing, there were two Ole Westby's, and they lived close to each other. Now, how confusing would all of this have been?

I am very excited to work more on my Westby line. I am also so very grateful for all of the treasure my "Westby cuz" has been bestowing upon me! I may never have made contact with her if it weren't for that "social networking" site called Facebook. You will, undoubtedly, be hearing much more about my Westby family and my treasures!

*Update 7/2/2010 - new information from my "Westby Cuz" informed me that the picture I have of Thelma's casket full of flowers is NOT the Thelma that is newly discovered to me. The death dates do not coincide.
Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

 Copyright © 2010 By Cheryl Palmer


  1. Doubters haven't tried it!! There is power and unlimited reach in social networking!

    I have my Gpa's photo album that looks almost the same as the one in your photo!

  2. That is so cool. How is it that one relative seems to end up so so much family stuff? I had a distant cousin whom I never knew about shared so many photos with me that I wept. It was amazing.

  3. Hi Jenna,

    You are so right! ;-) I wish I had my ggrandfathers photo album. I borrowed it to scan the photos. I am fortunate that I was able to do that!

    Hi Lori E,

    We have to be very happy that at least one family member does end up with so much stuff! How lucky for you to have had that opportunity! It is amazing, isn't it? I spent so much time in awe, and have had tears in my eyes many times with the "gifts" I have been receiving.

  4. I think that social networking helps beginner genealogists. I started doing this at age 15, so it's hard for me to understand that you didn't know all the names of your great-grandparents' siblings. All I had to do was (a) ask my grandparents who their aunts and uncles were or (b) I knew them personally. Most of us who started 30 years ago, did what you are doing by writing letters and calling people.

  5. Hi Martin,

    How fortunate for you that you started your genealogy at such a young age and that was "all you had to do." Lives are different for different folks. This line of my family was the last line I have researched, and there are many personal reasons for this. If I hadn't found this cousin, I may not have touched this line even yet. Thank you for the comment!


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