To Heck With New York, I Am Off To Texas

Left to right Minnie O'Brien in the dark dress, and Irene Harris Fesette in the white dress.

Left to right Minnie O’Brien in the dark dress, and Irene Harris Fesette in the white dress.


The title is a paraphrase of the Davy Crockett quote after he lost his election to Congress in his home state of Tennessee and then headed off to Texas and everlasting fame. In this case, it is four people related by blood and marriage who have been kept in a box for decades making the journey. Well, at least their picture is.

Genealogy research can be very frustrating and sometimes downright nasty. We all work long hours on our family history many times without results or recognition from our family. So I guess we should not be surprised when we do research that is unasked for that people can be indifferent and downright impolite. The reason for the research was so I could return two photographs to the family. The pictures of Bertha Burnell, Herbert Fesette, Minnie O’Brien, Irene Harris Fesette, have been stored in a box of photos belonging to my wife’s parents. I have over the last few years worked at getting the nonfamily photographs home to their proper families. Most of the time when the family is found they are appreciative of the effort made and of course to be getting the pictures back into their family. But not this time.

When I call a family, I have a high degree of confidence that I have the right family for the photographs. In the case of these photos several different census records, one death certificate and over 13 different newspaper articles between the years of 1917 to 1987 gives me good cause I had the right families. So for slightly less than a year I made the effort to contact the families by phone. Countless messages left on machines and with people went unanswered. When I did contact the family, they just were not interested or said they never heard of the people I was talking about. While perhaps some may not have heard of these people I am certain that is not true for all. One conversation went like this; ” you must have the wrong Fesettes we spell our name with just one s. We have nothing to do with the Fesettes that use two”. I replied, “yes I know they only have one s in their name.” To which they said, “Oh, well I have to get dinner now, goodbye” and the phone clicks off. So I then turned to the family trees on and sent emails to the trees that had this family showing. Then I waited. I was finally contacted by a lady from Texas that had these people in her tree as cousins. She offered to post the pictures and will return them to a family member that has a closer relationship if they contact her. I accepted her very kind offer and had or soon will send her the pictures. I will also send her some of the research I have done for her use or for the person who claims the pictures.

Herbert Fesette and Bertha Burnell

Herbert Fesette and Bertha Burnell


While this does not have the happy ending, I was hoping for. The pictures, do have a home and a hope that they will find a closer relation. I have many more pictures to try and return and will start work on the next one soon. While this blog does not show it, I find this fun to do and a little challenging. Sometimes it recharges your genealogy batteries when you step away from your family for a while and clear your mind by working on a different genealogy problem


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39 Responses to To Heck With New York, I Am Off To Texas

  1. I am so proud of your perseverance Charles! If she would scan and attach the pictures to the correct cousins in her tree, it would be interesting to see how quickly they are shared among trees. I often think, hope that things we put on ancestry will be found by grateful 5th great grandchildren! LOL Love your stories of your adventures. Helen

    • chmjr2 says:

      I agree it would be very interesting to see the spread of these pictures on ancestry. I will keep an eye on this when she places them in her tree.

  2. Sandi McGinnis says:

    Enjoyed! Getting ready to move so no time to work on any family research currently but hope for time once we are settled. Fun to hear about your experience.

  3. pastsmith says:

    Good for you. Genealogy blessings will follow!

  4. Well done for finding a home for these lovely ladies (and gentleman). A noble quest!

  5. Pierre Lagacé says:

    You made my day! I could relate so much to this.

  6. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Reblogged this on Our Ancestors and commented:
    We have all been there…

  7. Hi Pierre
    I have had the same things happen to me. These people were actually First Cousin(s), Uncle, and my own parents. Still processing these issues. Sad. Very sad.

  8. KerryCan says:

    Wow–what a fine thing you’re doing, to re-connect the photos with the families. I imagine most people are MUCH more appreciative than this Fesette clan has been. And the research couldn’t’ve been easy–there are zillions of Fesettes, at least around here!

    • chmjr2 says:

      I am well aware of the size of the Fesette and the O’Brien Families. My search centered on Clinton County and across the lake in Vermont. That I believe is in your neck of the woods. It was about four months of on again and off again research. It was made a little easier by the fact these people were friends with my wife’s parents. This gave me some good clues to start with.

  9. Amy says:

    I’ve had some disappointing interactions as well. Some people just can’t be bothered. But I try to remember that most people are really appreciative of the work and interested in the family history. And I’ve made friends with many people—distant cousins—whom I never knew before I started doing genealogy research. The good definitely outweighs the bad!

    • chmjr2 says:

      You are so right that the good outweighs the bad. All it takes is one good experience and it can wipe out five bad ones. I have met so many good people doing genealogy.

  10. GENlil says:

    I am a postcard rehomer, 90% of people are grateful to have them back with the history of the family, but the other 10% say sell them.

  11. rose2852 says:

    Hard as it is when this happens, you will not have been the first to be treated thus. On his travels to the UK, my father would call up people with our surname – not one that is common – and was regularly rebuffed. Not everyone wants to know about their past or other connections – perhaps because they are afraid of what it might throw up. It’s not about you :).

    • chmjr2 says:

      I do understand as I have members of my own family who most likely would have acted the same way. That is when it comes to family history they can’t put their head in the sand fast enough. Thanks so much for reading my blog and your comment.

  12. momdadandeveryonebeforethem says:

    Enjoy your blogs very much. It is a work that we do alone and yet it is for eyeryone! I love seeing work of others and realize we are not alone after all.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thank you so much for your nice comment. You are so right we do this alone and then wonder if anyone will read it and like what we have done. But through my blog I have met and got to know many nice people that make it a worthwhile. Also by reading other people’s blogs you get great ideas and pointers in genealogy. You also learn how much talent is out here in writing and genealogy.

  13. TY for stopping by and reading my blog…it’s a new beginning endeavor for me, posting for family to share my research. Funny, for so long my family was not interested at all but as I began to discover lost information and connecting 1st and 2nd cousins who hadn’t spoken in over 40/50 years it became apparent my unappreciated work was getting notice. Thanks again for stopping by and giving me the chance to discover your blog, I know I am going to totally enjoy reading it. I too do research on found pictures I find usually in antique stores (with clues on them)…I really loved this post by you…great writing, great read!

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thank you for your kind comments about my blog. I am glad your family enjoys your research in the family genealogy. As for me I have some that run (very fast) the other way when they see me. I am not sure if you do but use the Tags genealogy and family history when you post your blog. Both groups have a large readership. Best of luck to you.

  14. Sheryl says:

    It’s wonderful how you are reconnecting photos with their families. Most of my experiences sharing family and community history have been very well received – the few that haven’t I try to just move on from.

    • chmjr2 says:

      It is fun to do as I like the research you have to do. Also I find most of my efforts in this are also well received. I do move on well my efforts are not well received, but I can’t help but wonder if I did all I could.

  15. Jim McKeever says:

    File this under the category of “No good deed goes unpunished.” I applaud your persistence in seeing this through. Maybe at some point, the unappreciative ones will see the light.

  16. Man. Bertha’s face is just plain formidable. What a penetrating countenance. Can you just imagine?

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