Rummage through your drawer of family memorabilia, quiz your elders, or log on to your genealogical software—we have a mystery to solve.
In the 1960’s my aunt entrusted a crumbling travel diary to my care, based on my promise to transcribe the faded pages. Only after a thirty-year career typing computer code instead of diary entries did I find the time to seriously tackle the project. But from day one, the mystery of the diarist’s identity exasperated me like an itch I couldn’t scratch. No one knew who wrote the diary or how it ended up amongst my great-grandfather’s papers in the family attic. Over the last seven years I’ve followed every thread of a clue left behind in that fine script. Through the magic of the internet—Ta Da!—I discovered his name, who he married after his trip, even where he’s buried. The only disappointment in my quest was learning that he had no connection whatsoever to my family’s heritage. He’s definitely not my triple-great-grandfather. So, you ask, where’s the unsolved mystery?
Here is where you come in. I’m hoping that the same internet which produced his identity with enable me to crowdsource the elusive answers to two questions:
- Did the diarist have any children who lived to adulthood?
- Does the diarist have any living descendants, like you, for instance?
Without divulging any spoilers from my book, here are five facts to look for in your family’s records:
- The diarist’s surname was Baker, unfortunately quite a common name.
- He was a young American in 1831, implying a birth year in the early 1800’s.
- He was unmarried as of 1831.
- He was a man of means, enough to fund an extensive European Grand Tour.
- His hometown was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
If you have an ancestor who meets these criteria, please respond either with a comment or via my Contact page. If not, spread the word to those who you think may have a connection. I’ve not yet finished the Acknowledgements page in my book. Give me a good reason to add your name to it!
If you’re curious to see if my plan succeeds, revisit this blog for updates.