A Favorite Find

I meet the most interesting people on planes. On one flight to Buffalo, a woman taught me about the seven chakras, explained why she believed her sister was possessed by a demon and provided me with her business card (and told me about the history of her reusable water bottle company, too). I met a woman in another airport who remembered Kuznicki’s Bar–she and her friends used to go out for drinks there on Saturday nights–and had a conversation with one man about the positive and negative effects of social media on our daily lives. The latest, though, was a woman who asked me where I was from; she then threw up her hands and said, “Wait, I know! Must be Canada. You have a very Canadian face.”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always taken after my dad. I have his eyes and his nose and his smile, but I’ve inherited his sarcasm and wit and introverted-ness, too (I’m guessing that last one isn’t a word). We’re so much alike that it’s almost as if I didn’t inherit anything from my mom’s side of the family; my younger sister looks exactly like our mom and her mom and her mom, and it must have all been passed down to her. So here’s my point (and I do have one): while my sister and my mother have a long line of ancestor look-alikes in our family tree, my dad and I have never found an ancestor that we resemble.

I have hundreds of photos of my mom’s parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, and the stories that I’ve shared here–about basement stills and family businesses and golden anniversaries–are all stories from her side of the family tree. I have very few photos on my dad’s side, and I have even fewer stories: my grandmother passed away when I was a young girl, and many of the family’s photos and memories were lost with her. The information that I do have–about my strong Quaker roots or the origins of my last name–was pieced together from newspaper articles and military records over years of research. None of it was passed down from generation-to-generation the way the memories of my mom’s family and their Buffalo roots have been.

So I was researching those surname origins last week–researching the Applegate line of my family tree–when I came across a cousin’s Ancestry tree. He has a ton of information on the Applegate family (and seems to be a very talented researcher), but it wasn’t a breakthrough in my search because he had found a record I was looking for or had made a connection to another branch of the family that I lacked (though this certainly was the case). Finding my cousin’s tree was a breakthrough in my research because he had posted a photo of my great-grandfather’s parents and siblings and cousins. They were standing in a cemetery and dressed in their Sunday best and this potentially means they were attending a funeral which is a bit morbid but here they were.

Applegate, Glenn
Left to right (front row): Alfred Glenn Applegate, Opal (Latham) Applegate, Joseph Applegate & Alice (Applegate) Rhodes // Left to right (back row): Donald Ruggles & Martin Ruggles

And I think I look like them. My great-grandfather deserted the U.S. Army at the age of 17 and left home soon after in the middle of the night; he never visited or contacted his family again, and he never told his future wife or children or grandchildren about his past. It was chance–and many hours of research–that proved the connection between John Gates and Wendell Applegate, that proved my Applegate lineage in Kentucky. And it was chance–and a bit of research–that led me to this photo, too, if you think about it. My dad and I finally have a few ancestor look-alikes in our family tree; I guess I have a Kentucky face–not a Canadian face–after all.Jamie

21 thoughts on “A Favorite Find

      1. And I think you’re right! I wonder why we don’t do that as much anymore–but then again, I’ve been taking Find-a-Grave photos in cemeteries for years, and being in cemeteries doesn’t faze me. It’d probably freak people out too much.

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    1. I know right? I guess I just have one of those faces…

      No, but really. I like to listen to other’s stories, and people always seem to find me when they have an interesting story to tell. At least, that’s what I’m starting to think–otherwise, my life is just really weird!

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  1. Congrats on finding some look-a-likes! Genealogical names and places are great, but physiognomy- ancestral connections are always a treat. Maybe this is the start of finding more photos of that side of your family. How fun!

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    1. I’ve never met any “Ruggles,” and it doesn’t seem to be a common surname. The Ruggles married into the family, and I don’t descend from them; I bet they’re related to your line somehow–way back in time–though!

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      1. Ruggles on the Mayflower? I’m I’m pretty sure all four of my paternal grandparents have papers. I’m hesitant to say anything for sure sure lately. Owego not Oswego, is the home of Miranda Ruggles. Ultimately everyone ended up in Binghamton.

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      2. I get that–I’d want to know for sure too. Best of luck with your search!

        And I missed that lack of an “s;” I guess I’m used to reading Oswego and it’s become automatic! I don’t have a connection to Owego (yet!), but some family still lives in Binghamton. Really cool connection.

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      1. I do have one of his nephews winding up in Canada and buried in Plevna. Haven’t figured out how he got there. Plus, an unproven story has my great-grandfather following the Gold Rush to Canada. Unlikely, given his age at the time, but on my tree, I list him as dead with no date or location. People want to put him in Arkansas, last seen there in the 1900 census and missing from the 1910 census, Texas, and Canada. Nobody has given any proof although with Arkansas, he was living there when he was last seen.

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