Brendon Patrick Deasey, my cousin, born two months apart. Brendon falls on the Nelson side of my family, along with his mother, Mary and cousins Steve and Brian. For awhile when we were young there were Nelson holiday gatherings. I am quiet and reserved now...then I was nearly mute. Getting to know my cousins wasn't something I was socially capable of doing at six years old. The Nelson holidays stopped, possibly partly because Grandparents left the bustling city of Columbus and moved to the rolling, quiet hills of Burr Oak. More likely it was because everyone got older and busier, a bad reason, but not unlikely either.
I saw Brendon less than a handful of times after childhood. This April 10th will five years since day we lost him. Being both family and close in age made the loss one I still don't understand. I don't know that I can explain the feeling I had the last time I saw him. It was one of the few Mother's Days that we celebrated with our shared Grandmother. We were both older, certainly out of school or at least close. I can say this, I wanted to know him after that, befriend the cousin I hadn't after a decade plus sharing the earth. If he smiled, you smiled (believe it or not, most Nelsons have this trait)
Genealogy...the research of my family, where, when and who have they been? I wanted to know what it meant to be Nelson. My Mother was a Rains, many of my cousins were too. I knew what that was, what it looked like. If you were a Rains, you were (what we thought) Irish, some German, you could tell a good joke, tailgated at funerals, were a sibling of eleven or related to one and we all missed Big Bill even the ones that were born a decade too late.
I always wanted to be that, Rains. A lot of that is just being a kid and not knowing how to fit in...or that you don't have too. So I have been proud to be a Nelson, even if I haven't always had a good guess at what that meant. Don't take that the wrong way. I love my Dad, I love being a Nelson. But I have always yearned for the path that led to what a Nelson was.
I started amateurishly searching for ancestors of Nelson past over 10 years ago. Since then I have gained many tools, know what particular cracks to take an extra peek into, can recognize a misspelled name before I know its misspelled, looking the same record again every so often usually leads to something new (I still don't know how!). My grandfather, Paul Donald Nelson was born in Maine and so that is where my digital hunt began. After 10 years of off and on again research I had his dad, my great grandfather, George Augustine Nelson and his dad, just George S. No leads, No more cracks to check, just the worst feeling in research. The Wall.
Don't worry, this is where I tie it altogether. The last few months, whenever I have messed around with my family tree (740 people, 500+ records) I could feel the work I had done 6, 8, 10 years before staring me in the face. So I started over, beginning with the Nelson line.
Last night with my tree in front of me I realized that I had many of my cousins missing from version 2.0. The first that I added was Brendon. Wanting to add a picture as well, I headed to the internet. What I found was a legacy.com page/guestbook that seemed to be waiting for me. I wrote down what I wanted to say to Brendon, at least what I had been able too at the moment, ending with a request for him to bother our Great Grandfather, George Augustine, to drop me some hints on the Nelson line that has plagued me for over 10 years.
Less than 24 hours later, I now know that my 2nd Great Grandfather's middle initial S, stood for Scott. Shortly after that I found George Scott Nelson on a 1880 US census in Winsow, Maine. His father, Eugene F. Nelson. This is information that I have been looking for for over a decade. It doesn't tell what it means to be a Nelson (It was always right in front of me), it doesn't tell me everything about the Nelson's. But I now know that my family name goes back to Maine at least 1836. I haven't had a chance to dig into Eugene yet, or his wife Lizzy. Wrapping my mind around the gift my cousin has given me is too much. In all honesty, finding a relative like this moves me to began with...getting Brendon's help is near life changing.
Thank you Brendon