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The importance of a middle name when researching a lost relative

Discussion in 'Search tips - discussion' started by Bob Spiers, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    The news received a few days ago of the death of my Aunt Betty (aged 94) on Christmas Day notified by her daughter - a once lost cousin - brought home to me again just how useful a middle name can be when trying to find someone. Here is how a middle name was the variable between success and failure.

    In 2009 I received from my mother's youngest brother (Uncle) Cyril a cri de coeur to help him locate a long lost daughter from his first marriage. Although successfully married for over 50 years to a second wife (producing 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls, my cousins) he lamented that after his first wife left him in 1953 taking his daughter Linda with him, he had not seen hide nor hair of her since, some 56 years. He was approaching 87 at the time and in poor health. I made sure his second wife (Aunt Rita) was OK with my research (which she was) and set about the task.

    I knew Betty had remarried and that Linda's surname was changed to her new married surname. From another source I learned that Linda eventually married a cousin of another family member but the most useful information gleaned was that Linda had been christened Linda Olive and retained those names thereafter.

    After discovering the marriage, and the birth of a son, the trail just ended and it was quite some time, and almost by accident, I learned from the same source the marriage had not lasted. Like her mother before her, she had remarried and her middle name (or rather initial) came to the rescue and I found what most likely was her new married surname.

    But life is never easy because again the trail ran cold, and this time no clues as to whether she had uprooted, emigrated or perhaps even a further marriage. I eventually pursued the latter premise and found a Linda O marriage using her previous married surname, and if I had the right person, she was now a Shaw. Lucky for me she had remained in Birmingham throughout.

    To bring the story to conclusion and knowing time was marching on for my Uncle, I took the bull by the horns and found an address from an Electoral Roll of a Linda O Shaw living with the right named husband and wrote to her. She responded saying she was indeed Linda and was amazed I had found her. She wanted time to consider getting in touch with her birth father after so long a time. She phoned me a few days later saying her mother had given her blessing as had her husband, so asked me to instigate a reunion... but please make certain his new family did not mind and keep her informed on progress.

    I knew I had to pass things on to the family so I phoned my Aunt Rita who arranged for two of her daughters to meet with Linda before any reunion could be considered. The result being they got on well with the half sister they had never seen before. Because of his health it was agreed it had to be arranged as a surprise meeting as he would have been unable to contain himself had he been forewarned. Although I was not present I would have given anything to be a fly on the wall when it happened.

    Would you believe a couple of days after the meet-up my Uncle rang me to tell me he had finally met up with Linda, and wanted me to be the first to know. I heard my Aunt in the background tell him not to be so daft saying it was Bobby who found her. He said in the excitement it had slipped his mind but went on to thank me many times. It was quite an emotional moment for me also.

    Uncle Cyril died in 2011 two months shy of 89. I met Linda and her husband at his funeral and she told me her mother Betty was still pretty active for an 86 year old and her step-father had long since died. Aunt Rita passed away in 2015 aged 81.

    So, to end as I began, on the last day of the old year I received a text message from Linda telling me her mother Betty had died Christmas morning aged 94 (and four months). A pretty good innings by any standard and brings my story to an end.
    • Creative Creative x 1
  2. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    Thank you, Bob. A heartwarming story - the kind that makes our research worthwhile.
    • Agree Agree x 4
  3. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    What a lovely story, Bob. You must have been so thrilled at being able to find your uncle's long-lost daughter. I remember in another thread saying not to get too hung up on middle names, but I can see how in this case it was crucial - well done.
  4. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It's such a shame that some people who claim to be family historians have no interest in finding their 'lost cousins'.

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