Saturday, July 28, 2012


As I get older - maybe, wiser - I've been reconnecting with my geographically-near cousins, and connecting for the first time with other cousins further away.  Many of them.  First cousins who are a whole generation or so older, in my father's GILLESPIE line, and their children, our first-cousins-once-removed.  As well as second cousins-once-removed, from all lines, BUNN.  Third cousins - or is it fourth -  in my mother's father's TERWILLIGER line.

   And a wonderful first cousin far away in Ontario - who had been lost to the family since a post-war divorce - found me from my post on the KUHN message board online, "looking for relatives"!  We were both flabbergasted to find each other, and thrilled to find we both love genealogy.  What a wonderful experience - we've become friends as well as relatives.  Cuz Dave - you're the BEST!  Pooling our information and researching skills, we managed to prove much in our KUHN line in particular.  

   All those other cousins shared photographs, memories, stories, copies of various documents, many notes, and great conversations.  And along the way, I've discovered much to enjoy.  These are lovely people.  Why on earth didn't we know each other better, before now -?

   Several of these cousins have big family reunions or picnics or huge Christmas dinners in a hall, on a regular basis.  I envy them their opportunities to keep in touch, to know what is happening with various couples, their children, the whole extended family.  Wouldn't it be nice if we did this, too?  But somehow we're scattered in my family of origin.  Usually 'someone' keeps in irregular touch and passes on information.  Of course, a divorce or two does make it challenging.  Sigh.  These days, funerals are our major method of meeting!

Souvenir Album (1800s)
   My furthest-distance cousin connection was with Joanne, a third cousin who lives down in St. Louis, MO.  I managed to spend some time with her when I was down there at a conference (I was working still).  Not only did I find much to appreciate in her kindness in picking me up in a nasty snow storm, and treating me to a wonderful meal, I also loved the photo of my greatgrandfather's sister, and more information on that side of the TERWILLIGER family. I was able to share what I'd found already on that line, plus some personal details gathered from my greatgrandfather's Souvenir Album, which my grandmother had kept (in very bad shape, unfortunately) in an old trunk.   I'm enclosing a photo - and every archivist out there will cringe at the terrible condition it's in (apologies).  

   Cousins.  They have a different take on the family stories, remember events differently, but they're definitely family.  And for genealogy details, nothing can beat a cousin.

Love to all my far-flung cousins - Celia


GeniAus said...

How true, Celia. Although I am no a FB fan I find that it has connected me with distant cousins.

Celia Lewis said...

Jill, it wasn't on Facebook, it was on a RootsWeb Surname Board. I put up the details of my Grandparents on my mother's side, blithely asking for relatives... and got an answer within 12 hours! Thrilling. Truly. I still have shivers thinking about it.

Peter said...

Well, your Souvenir Album may be in bad shape, at least you have it! And any information you learn from it is a big plus. I envy you!
In your blog intro you mention you have ancestral lines from the Netherlands. I also see the Terwilliger name which definitely has a Dutch sound. The name Terwilligen (with an n) shows up in Dutch archives.
Reason for this observation is that in my blog I have a post showing blogs of people with Dutch ancestors: So I like to ask your permission to add your blog to the list showing your Dutch surnames.
Another post is There I publish Dutch surnames that have changed over the years. Your Terwilliger name, if Dutch, may very well qualify here and like to include this surname and possibly others as well.
Your reaction will be highly appreciated. You may reach me at patmiebies at
Thank you.

Kathy Reed said...

I'm truly enjoying your blog. Keep on writing -- it's great!

Celia Lewis said...

Thank you Peter - I've emailed you directly.
For everyone else, Terwilliger is a North American name for two siblings from the Netherlands (arrived 1663 on De Arent); this surname was in use by their families by 1690, as New Amsterdam was ruled by the Brits.

Celia Lewis said...

I appreciate your kind comments, Kathy - this is a big deal for me!!

Jana Iverson Last said...

Wonderful post Celia! Yes, finding cousins is so exciting indeed! Congratulations on connecting with them.

And that souvenir album is truly a treasure, no matter what condition it's in.

Celia Lewis said...

Thanks Jana - I cringe every time I go into it looking for more 'gold' - very careful handling indeed. I've told my kids if there's a fire - grab it first!

TCasteel said...

We call many people in our family cousins. It drives my son crazy. He only understands 1st cousins. Clear & concise. I emphasize that they are family and related and are indeed of cousin of some sort. May he'll understand better when he gets older...
Theresa (Tangled Trees)

Celia Lewis said...

It usually takes drawing out a tree to help kids understand the variety of cousins we have! All cousins are definitely "family" in my book... and yes, he'll probably understand better as he gets older. Here's hoping! Thanks for posting.

Jana Iverson Last said...

Hi Celia,

I just wanted to let you know I listed your blog in my Fab Finds post today at


Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis