This weekend, distracted by a genealogical adventure that had gotten its hooks into me, I made modest, but measurable progress on my 2012 Stash down challenge and finished the Better Homes and Garden granny square sampler fat bag that I began on October 21.
As some of my readers know, the Better Homes and Gardens Granny Square Sampler project was one that long eluded me, but in June of 2010, after 12 years of on-again, off-again effort, I finally finished my first Granny Square Sampler afghan, and this past spring, I made a reprise of my first effort.
Both can be seen here:
But this afghan, like my recent genealogical adventure, would not let me rest, and I wanted to create a portable version of this magnificent (and beloved — at least by me) icon of granny square goodness through the medium of the fat bag.
This past weekend, both the genealogical adventure I mentioned and the granny square sampler inspired fat bag each reached a milestone.
Like granny square sampler, the facts of my family history have often eluded me, but this weekend, a thread that I discovered in February of 2009 while searching the 1920 United States Census, finally unraveled, and I was able to reunite an adventurous young woman who had been lost to history with living members of her family.
In the census I had came across some facts I had not known:
My grandfather, Nick, had been married to someone named Marinda before he was married to my grandmother.
My grandfather had a brother named Pete.
Pete was married to a woman from Idaho named Victoria.
When I stumbled on this information, I called my mom and asked her if she knew she had an Uncle Pete.
She did not.
As it turned out, almost everything I learned in the 1920 census was news to my mom, but since that cold night in February 2009 we have learned a few things about what had been my mother’s mysterious Uncle Pete.
This past January, we learned that Pete returned to the old country, that he remarried, that he and his wife had four children, that he and his wife died while the children were young, and that those children had been raised by their maternal grandparents.
What we did not know was what had become of Victoria.
This week, all that changed.
My husband, who has as his vocation, genealogy, was in a position to be able to look up and get digital copies of death certificates last week, so while I was working on my granny square sampler fat bag, I was intermittently looking through an index of California Deaths from 1905 to 1939 in search of state file numbers that would allow me to look up death certificates for Mitchell Milkovich, my grandmother’s second husband, and their daughter Lillian, who had died as a child.
The search for Mitchell Milkovich’s state file number was straightforward, and I found him where I expected to: in the M’s. But the search for Lillian was not as easy. At first I looked for her in M’s, but she was nowhere to be found. Then I remembered that by the time Lillian died, my grandmother had remarried.
Maybe, I thought, Lillian’s death certificate would have my grandfather’s name on it, and indeed, it did. I found her alphabetically sandwiched in between a Lewis and Lucy Benjamin.
And while I was searching through the databases, looking in one wrong place and then another for Lillian, I came across Victoria Benjamin.
I had not thought of her in a very long time, but as soon as I saw the name, I was certain it was my Victoria from the 1920 census. I sent my husband an email with Victoria’s state file number.
Soon I had digital copies of both Mitchell Milkovich and Victoria Benjamin’s death certificates (Lillian’s was not available and will have to be ordered).
Once I had her death certificate in hand, Victoria would not let me rest.
When I mentioned the story and shared some of the facts with a friend, my friend thought to do a search that I had not done, and with those results I was able to locate and reach out to Victoria’s grand niece, who had, as it happens, been looking to find her great aunt and solve what was for her family a 93-year-old mystery.
With the dual mysteries of “who was Victoria” and “what became of Victoria” solved, I was able to once again focus my attention on what was at that moment my uncompleted Better Homes and Gardens Granny Square Sampler inspired fat bag. After gathering what would become the front and back of the bag:
I finished work on the straps:
The bag, while roomy:
did not hold it’s shape very well:
Because of that, I decided I should add a closure, which ended up being just what the bag needed to better hold its shape:
I don’t know where the information that has been unearthed as a result of finding Victoria’s family will lead me, but now I’ve got just the bag to take with me when I go there.