Thoughts on Genealogy by Mary Nabb:
Here at the Historical Society, we keep hearing over and over from our friends and neighbors that they didn’t know we were here. When visitors stop in they are amazed at what they find inside; whether they are from Dorchester County, someone passing through Cambridge or someone coming to use our library.
Over the past few weeks I’ve met people at DCHS from other states that came here to research their family history. One week there were cousins who were meeting there in hopes of finding clues to piece together facts they already knew on a family named Thiel. She told me they had a store in the Taylors Island, Meekins Neck, Golden Hill area that once belonged to Levin T. Dunnock, and it had burned. She had the date of the fire but had been unable to find further information. I remembered that the name Thiel was in my family tree and Levin T. Dunnock was my great-great grandfather. That was enough to spark interest on both sides and I shared that I knew Levin owned a store but I had never found the exact location. One of the cousins stayed in Cambridge that night and went to Meekins Neck and Taylors Island before returning to her home in New Jersey. I helped her piece together maps from the 1877 Atlas so she could envision the long stretch from Lower Hooper’s Island to James Island, north of Taylors Island.
The second encounter I had with visitors was a couple of weeks later when 2 couples came in who were in the Gray family. I had been introduced to them in 2019 by phone when Gary and Kathy Gray stopped in at DCHS to research their family. There was an event taking place that day at DCHS so they didn’t have much time in the library. Ann Phillips had called me to speak with them since she knew my husband Carlton Nabb was from the Gray family.
So, we connected again, this time in person and I got to meet the other couple who was from Michigan. The first time the Grays had visited they were amazed to find within our exhibits the post office from Elliotts Island. We have the postal boxes as they were when the post office closed, one side was the box numbers and the combination locks. On the other side were the names of the residents so the postmaster could put the mail in the correct boxes. They came back to show that post office to the other couple because two of the boxes were marked with names of relatives. The men had a nice visit and posed for a picture at the post office. As they worked their way through the museum they recognized a great-grandfather in pictures hanging in our hunting, trapping area.
Imagine the feeling these people had when finding a specific connection to their family in our museum. And my feeling when I happen to be there at the time these “cousins” stop by to visit. If you do genealogy you’ll understand.
We want everyone locally to be aware of the great resources we have in our library on Dorchester History – not just the county, but your ancestors. You may even find a picture of them or an obituary or record of their birth or marriage. There are a lot of people out there that have no idea this resource is close to home. If you can come in to visit and then tell your friends what you found you’ll be doing us a big favor. This is your invitation to visit us and plan to use our facility to fill in some spaces on that family tree.