Week 7 of my journey was really a journey. Left the Toledo train terminal on Monday morning with my son heading for North Dakota for some client research. Worked from a remote site trying to still handle all my internet responsibility.
I have been planning this trip to go meet with a client in North Dakota for weeks. Thought wow what a great idea to take the train. I have spend time in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Wanted to see it in a different way. Well my first big clue should have been the fact that the train left early in the morning. I did not pay attention.
The train was two hours late leaving Toledo. Luckily we did not have to be in Fargo at any particular time since my work did not begin until Tuesday. What was suppose to be a six hour lay over in Chicago ended up being only a short period of time. We left for Fargo on time and saw some beautiful scenery on the way. The bad part was we got there in the middle of the night with no ground transportation and had to walk to the hotel. Great time hauling our luggage and dealing with a unhappy teenager. I did not see this in my job description when I started this job. Live and learn.
My first appointment on Tuesday was to meet with the client. Would be the first time to speak face to face, but this became delayed. I decided to visit some of the libraries and archives that I had scheduled for my research. Luckily the main library in town was located just a block from the hotel. Walked up there to check their resources out. Unfortunately most of there records were unindexed newspapers. So went to plan B. The suggestion of the librarian was to go to the regional archives that was located up by North Dakota State University. Would need to visit the German/Russian collection that was located in the schools main library. Short walk he said to get there. I walk all the time so I thought no big deal. I have a map.
Well I started out on my journey. After about three miles of walking I was able to find campus. Unfortunately after talking to a gardener, librarian and IT guy I found out it had been moved north of campus. Short walk they said. So I walked the two miles and managed to find the library. It was a gold mine and I managed to find a great deal on my client's family. All states should have these types of libraries that cover a wide section of the state. We have them in Ohio. Needless I called my clients personal assistant to come and pick me up. Enough exercise for one day.
Once I got to the clients wonderful office I was presented with three boxes full of family information. Oh my this is a genealogist dream. Turns out my client had been collecting things for decades with the intent of getting all written one day. The next best thing his personal assistant had scanned everything. Wonderful!!!
Met with the client and seemed to really connect. Went over the plan for my visit and answered his questions. First step was for us to travel out to his Mom's home to do a oral interview. He had his reservations on how well this was going to go. Said his Mom can be a challenge. Five hours later she was wonderful. The stories were incredible. She had a great deal of contact with some of the family that had come from Russia. One of the highlights for me was explaining the importance of food traditions in genealogy. This was her hot button. She started to talk about all the recipes and even showed me the summer kitchen she had. It was located in a building outside the home. Walked in with the idea that I was going to see a regular kitchen. It was set up to cater banquets. Amazing.
We had spent a long time talking to his mother so I said we would be back the next day. Spent the rest of the day till about 2 in the morning going through the mounds of information he had given me. It was only then that I learned the fascinating stories of his families journey to North Dakota from the Odessa region of Russia. The family was of German origins and had moved to Russia during the reign of Catharine the Great. Needless to say I was jazzed for the next day. My plan was to head up to the German/Russian collection in the library and then return to the clients mothers.
Luckily the personal assistant was able to pick me up and take me to the library. This collection is designed to tell the history of the many Russian/German families that had located to North Dakota in the early 1900's. It was clearly one of the best collections I have ever been in that covers a particular region. The librarian could not do enough to help me find resources. She kept coming back with books the whole time I was there. Made my job so much easier. After about three hours of research I knew I had to get back to the client's to see his mother. I would need to return to the library.
The original idea today was to bring in sandwiches and interview the clients mother. My client informed me that his mother had cooked a five course meal for us with all the original family recopies. He said for his mother this was a big thing. Needless to say two hours later with great food and excellent family conversation I was thrilled. The highlight of my visit was when she brought on pieces of clothing that had been worn by the original immigrant ladies. Shivers went up my spine when I saw the initials of the GGG grandmother sewn into the fabric. This was a wonderful moment. My client and his mother were crying. This was genealogy gold!!!
This was a great day. This is why I enjoy helping others research their families. My client told me afterwards that this had been a very emotional day for both of them and they appreciated my ability to bring their families to life. Energized me to continue working through the boxes for more clues to our search.
Next day was spent interviewing the client, researching back at the German/Russian archives and going through the files. In three days I had spent close to 36 hours working on this project. Not much time for sleep, but I had work to get done. Now for the trip back.
Our train was suppose to arrive in the early hours on Friday. It was delayed by six hours. Once we got on the train my son and I went to breakfast. We sat with a gentleman who explained to us why the train was late. The track had shifted. It was all the result of fracking. The new way to get oil. He proceeded to educate us on the damage that we are doing to the earths crust. From a high to a low in just twenty four hours. We finally got into Toledo at 6:30 in the morning the next day. No more train rides.
In September I am going to be flying a plane to visit with the clients in laws. I am hoping for some more genealogy gold. Got a lot to do this upcoming week.