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Coincidences. . . .or not - Strange But True Genealogy Stories

Updated on October 4, 2013

Strange Coincidences are Commonplace When Researching Genealogy


very unlikely meeting between unrelated people looking for the same information. Spinning microfilm stopping at the exact name being looked for out of thousands of other names. Pages falling out of a stack of papers with just the desired information.

These are just a few of the amazing stories people have to tell while researching their family tree.

Coincidental Meeting Holds Key to Important Information

Schedule Changes Help Make Connection


y (great) Aunt Maude was an avid genealogist and devoted one day a week for research at the genealogy library. One Tuesday a lady approached her for help. She had asked several librarians for a specific book and none could help her. Somehow she felt impressed to approach my aunt out of the hundreds of other visitors in the library that day.

She was looking for a book that had been referred to her from a letter she had in her hand. It was called Charles Smith's Diary. My aunt told her it was not in the library, but by coincidence she had it at home, as Charles Smith was her grandfather. This lady wanted information on her great grandfather, who was Captain Jacob Secrist, another captain of a wagon train in 1855. He had died on the trail and she wanted to go back along the trail to locate his grave.

My aunt invited her to her home, and they found in the diary that Charles Smith was the clerk of the very same wagon train and he had kept a day-to-day account, including the date of Captain Secrist's death and where he was buried. The lady went back and found the place of burial, located an historian and placed a marker at that spot. The historian then wrote about the event in the newspaper, and many more people made inquiries, were able to find more genealogical information, and add more markers along the trail.

To make this story even more amazing, Aunt Maude always went to the library on Mondays, never Tuesday, because she babsat on Tuesdays. The lady never went on Tuesday because that was the day she worked at the Children's Hospital. But on that particular week each had their plans changed and the only day they could go was on Tuesday.

Finding that One Little Paper in Reams

Leads to more reams. . .


y parents were researching my dad's Carman family line when my mother found the name of a woman who was the secretary of the Carman Family Organization. Coincidentally she lived in the same town as my mother's Aunt Maude, and my parents decided to look the woman up next time they visited.

Telling Aunt Maude of their current genealogy quest to find my dad's Carman family, she told them about a dear friend of hers who had written all over the United States trying to find related Carmans. Of course, this turned out to be the same woman.

My mom and dad went to the woman's home where she showed them literally reams and reams of genealogy charts and family history. She let them look through it all. But Carman is a common name and they could find no connections or even familiar names. They even took a second look in case they had missed something. This time my mom looked at each sheet carefully, one at a time, passed it to my dad, who did the same and then set each page carefully aside. No luck.

As they were preparing to leave, my mom was chatting about the coincidence of the woman's friendship with her aunt, and my dad was picking up the last pile of papers to return them to the larger pile. In doing so, some shorter sheets fell away that had been stapled to the back of the larger sheets, effectively becoming hidden from view. He caught the name of a familiar Carman. As he looked further, he found the name of his great grandfather listed as a child, along with parents, brothers and sisters, all information my dad didn't have. What a find!

But that wasn't all. The woman said, "Well, if that is your family, then this is yours, too." She then handed him over a hundred family sheets taking the family back to 700 A.D.

Microfilm as Roulette Wheel

This Woman Got Lucky!


friend of my mother's was researching a Swedish family line, which was very intimidating because of the language. She somewhat reluctantly ordered a Swedish microfilm to be sent to her local library, not knowing how on earth she would read it, but hoping to at least recognize some names.

When the film arrived, she put it on the viewer and just stared at all the unfamiliar words. Only the names were readable to her. After several pages, and knowing she had miles more film to go through, she became frustrated and overwhelmed. She started spinning the film. Immediately knowing this would only bring a blur of passing pages and wouldn't help her at all, she stopped, intending to backtrack and start over. Right where the spinning film stopped appeared a grandfather's name and many other related names and dates she needed.

Who's Waiting to be Included on Your Family Tree?

It's really easy to start.


hen you start researching your family history, many little side stories emerge that bring life to the names and dates you're collecting. It's easy to get started, if you haven't already. You can find simple steps to start your search here.

Thanks for stopping by, and please come back again!

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very encouraging stories. My aunt on my maternal side stumbled upon information that changed the whole look of my family tree.

      I look forward to reading more.

      Laura Hedgecock

    • Mellithorpe profile image


      5 years ago

      Loved reading your lens. I think preserving family history is so important and I hope many more people try to continue to search their roots. I am a firm believer in that those that have gone before can still help us in so many ways, such as the stories told above.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 

      6 years ago

      Cute stories!!

    • TransplantedSoul profile image


      6 years ago

      Searching your family tree cab be so much "luck". It is very often hard to find things, but its amazing what is out there. Nice write-up.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      would love to see the documentation taking her back to 700AD !.......

    • Nancy S Oram profile imageAUTHOR

      Nancy Oram 

      7 years ago

      @delia-delia: Don't you love it when that happens! The challenge of genealogy used to be finding stuff, now it's being overwhelmed with stuff. I love it!

    • delia-delia profile image


      7 years ago

      Great story! I do my family research and made some lenses with certain things I have found, and just recently by coincidence found a passport photo of my grandmother on from the passport information I found out things I never know it led to a whole domino affect. Right now I'm trying to make sense of all of this...Also because of my family Squidoo lenes, I was contacted by a distant cousin I never knew I had and a friend who lived in the same town in Germany where I lived after the war as a child...amazing! I enjoyed reading your stories.

    • SummersSorbet profile image


      7 years ago

      Great job on this lens! Thanks!

    • LadyFlashman profile image


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Woah! What amazing stories! I hope something amazing like this will happen in my searches, especially with a brick wall I have with one line of the family. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      LOVE it! Spellbinding to read of the stories attached to genealogy! I found out my great grandmother had a set of twins that died soon after birth, that no one knew about. Later in my great grandmother's life, she did have another set of twins, my great aunts. Neither of them had twins, but their sister, my grandmother did. :)


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