In the summer of 2003 Bennette and I packed up and drove down to southern California on our genealogical quest of the year: to see if we could find any descendants of my grandfather’s brother Everett who moved with his family to Los Angeles more than a hundred years previously. Soon we would discover that this search for contact between North and South actually began 26 years before our trip when Dot Byrne, one of Everett’s five children and my Dad’s first cousin, wrote a letter to Dad requesting some family history information. I was still in my 30s in those days and not yet interested in my family history and never knew of this letter or my Dad’s eventual reply the following January. A couple of years after our search for Everett I went through a box of my Dad’s papers and found Dot’s letter.
We met Dot at her home in Santa Barbara during our search for Everett and during our visit she gave me a copy of my Dad’s reply to her letter of 1977.
Fact checking Dad’s letter: Grandma Dwyer died in 1927 at the age of 80. Mary was child # 4. She was born in 1875, a year before my grandfather. Everett was child # 9. He was born in 1884. Justina was born in 1886.
In one of my Dad’s letters of 1994 (coming soon!) he mentions that he and his wife and his sister had lunch with Dot one day soon after this letter exchange. And for the next several years they exchanged Christmas cards. For many years Dot’s cards were signed “Dot and Paul” and were posted from Grass Valley up in the Sierra foothills. Then the signature was just “Dot” and her address changed to Santa Barbara. This was our first clue in finding any of Everett’s descendants.
In Part Two of Our Search for Everett I will describe our travels all over southern California beginning with our visit to the LA Public Library and the information we derived from Everett and Mabel’s obituaries in the LA Times.