Today we went back to exploring graveyards in the local area. We stopped as Weedsport Rural Cemetery with an educated guess that we’d discover some family there. My mother informed me that I should be able to find my great grandfather Charles Race there as well as my great great grandfather, Fernando Race there as well. After some wandering around we spotted the first grave. It held Fernando, Josephine, and Helen. Helen was only five years old when she died and so she was buried next to her parents. I never knew any of these people, but seeing that they buried their lost little girl right next to them started to color in the vagueness. I imagine Fernando and Josephine to be salt-to-the-earth people with huge hearts and kind dispositions. They had MANY children and when they lost one too early, they made sure she would always be with them, even in the hereafter. I had to pause and take it all in. Helen was born in 1907 and died five years later in 1912. As I paid my respects to my long dead super-great grandparents I started to look around their headstones. I immediately ran across Clinton C. Race. Clinton served in the Navy during the Korean conflict and his headstone (rightly so) proudly had his military plaque on the obverse side of his headstone marker. On his headstone he made reference to a lost brother, Leroy. Leroy was 1 month old when he died. Looking at the records of the family, Chester Race had twin boys, Charles and Leroy. Leroy didn’t survive. Chester went on to have many more children including Clinton. The kicker was, I didn’t know any of this and worse, I couldn’t prove any of it. The only real thing I had to go on was that I had a gaggle of Races all buried together, like arm-spans together. Clinton was feet from Fernando, and there was another grave for Mark Race right next to Clinton.
So I had Clinton and Mark and no way to link them, nor any way to link them to Fernando. I know that Fernando is related to me, and I suspected that Mark was Clinton’s son, but linking Clinton to anyone else? Nope. Fernando had a lot of kids, but never a Clinton. So I did some research. Ancestry.com wasn’t very useful as Clinton didn’t apparently show up on many public records, like censuses or anything like that. For hours Clinton was a lost lamb. I knew in my heart that Clinton was related to me, why would anyone with the same surname elect to be buried next to another person with the same surname? To punish future lookey-loos like me? Nah! It was a mystery. That’s a central carrot to this genealogical obsession. You know you’ve got kin but you can’t connect them up, until…
Thanks to the Fulton Historical Society, they placed a newspaper scan article on the Internet from 1964 which was an obit for Chester Race. Chester was the missing key. Fernando was Chester’s father, and brother to Charles – my maternal grandfathers father. So I was related to Chester. In Ancestry.com all I knew of Chester was that he had one girl child and that was it. Turns out I was wrong. Chester had Clinton as well! And Chester had his own Charles and with him came Leroy. That halcyon moment was so sweet and reverberated for hours. I linked Clinton Race with Chester, with Fernando, and with Charles and then Allen, to my mother and then to me. The cousin relationship is thick, but it exists! Right after that the rest of it fell into place. Clinton had two boys, Mark and Timothy. Mark was buried right next to his father. The obvious next step was to look at Mark. He was alive up until 2010, he died in an accident. Mark had two children, Rebecca and Brian.
Hungry for more discovery I started to concentrate on Mark, Timothy, Brian, and Rebecca. I know that Rebecca moved to Florida and maybe got married, so we hope a happily ever after for her, and Brian (thanks to the apple-not-falling-far-from-the-tree when it comes to looks) has some fame with him. Brian Race works for Sea Shepherd. It was a weird feeling, looking at a picture of a man who is definitely related to me, doing work I find incredibly impressive and courageous. Now, how related is he? Not really at all. We really share Fernando and that’s many generations and cousin-bridges. Is there any point to knowing about Brian Race? Probably not. But in the same way that I can claim some ancestral link to A.G. Spalding (of the baseball-and-catchers-mitts Spalding company) I can also claim a connection to Solomon Spalding, which if you are a Mormon should be a name you recognize and hiss at, like throwing holy water on a vampire. If you don’t get it, do a Google search for Solomon Spalding and Joseph Smith. It’ll be a good read, I promise. So, back to the Races – Fernando, Chester, Clinton, Mark, and then Brian. Five generations of people that connect to me.
Mark’s children, as well as Timothy (if he still draws breath) and any of the other Races, if you somehow happen to read this blog post and I am right (or even if I’m not!) about Clinton, I encourage you with all my heart to please make contact with us. I would really love to share our family tree with you and maybe help you get to know your greats and get to know them and appreciate their lives through the scraggly bits and pieces that we have collected. I don’t want to personally interfere with anyones lives, so I am going to put this message in a bottle and hurl it into the great abyss. Leave a comment or write me an email at bluedepth(at)gmail(dot)com. I’m all over, Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. If not, no biggie.