I never knew my mother’s father, who died a few years before I was born. The youngest of ten children, William Watson Ross (1892-1947) emigrated from Aberdeenshire exactly one month after the Titanic sank. By the time he and his parents embarked permanently for Chicago in 1919, his six surviving siblings had emigrated to the four corners of the earth, landing in New York; Chicago; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Auckland, New Zealand. The Chicago Rosses soon lost touch with the rest of the family.
Recently I went through some papers my mother had given me and discovered a remarkable example of old-school, pre-Internet genealogical research-cum-luck.
As far as we knew, my grandfather’s oldest brother, George left Scotland for South Africa in 1903. Only later did we learn that George settled in Johannesburg and became the Acting Superintendent of the Tramways Department and in 1913 had a son, also named George, with his wife.
In 1989, George the son decided to write to the newspaper in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, the last place he knew the Chicago Rosses were living. In a remarkable bit of luck, George Ross had his answer in less than a week when one of the cousins who still lived in the area saw the article. Here’s how it happened:
Family trees were exchanged along with Christmas cards until George Ross died and now the families have lost touch again. But without the information George Ross shared in 1989, I wouldn’t know what had happened to my great-great-uncles and their adventures in South Africa and New Zealand.
Blogs are supposed to be good at attracting cousins, so I’ll hope that somehow this research miracle can be repeated and I’ll find my second cousins, Cynthia Beryl Ross Rogerson and Pamela Joan Ross Robinson in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Ross Isherwood Paterson in Leslie Jane Ross, and Jillian Ellen Dalziel in Auckland, New Zealand.