Journey of a genealogist: Who is related to John Garvin?

By Barry Ewell

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Oct. 27 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Before going to Jersey City, I was told by many that it was a very rough city. Jersey City was everything I expected it to be. It was a very different world. It seemed like a very rough place to grow up.

Next it was off to Richard’s home. I arrived about 4:15 and left at 9:15. I shared with the family stories about my search, pictures of John, and was able to interview Richard's mom, Emma. I came as a stranger and left as a friend. The family had some very nice photos of John as a youth and young man. Copies of these photos were later sent to me.

After about 30 minutes of the discussion, Emma, who was 86, said, “Wait a minute. This is funny. We have a man who is a total stranger telling us more about our family than we even know.”

I learned that John had been in World War II as part of the Battle of the Bulge and had been wounded by a bomb splitting a tree and shards of the tree entering his forearm, which explained the nasty scar John would never talk about. Before I left, Richard asked for the phone numbers of other family members with whom they had not spoken for more than 30 years. I hope they make contact.

During this trip, I was able to find clues to finding family for four generations — not bad for a day's work.

The Garvin story is a sad story about a sad life that tore the family apart for many years. Perhaps, this was the beginning for a family to learn about each other.

Barry J. Ewell is author of "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips and Tricks for Discovering your Family History" and founder of MyGenShare.com, an online educational website for genealogy and family history.

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