Friday, September 4, 2009

Serendipity in Genealogy: A letter from the past

John C. McCornack examines the letter Dear Ancestry Insider,

I saw you at the BYU conf. and attended the lunch time class on this.  You told a story of a man from Ireland or Scotland who stopped to buy a sweater for his wife before returning to the airport.  At the store the lady had a letter in her purse and she had the same last name as he did.  This story is not in the syllabus or on your blog.  Do you have a copy of it that you could send me or tell me if it is on the internet.  I wanted to share that story in a presentation I have to give.  The last name was something like McKendrick or similar.

Thank you,
D. Ragsdale

Dear D.,

You are in luck.

I first came across the remarkable story of John C. McCornack and the letter from the past in Hank Jones’s Psychic Roots: Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy, on pages 66-8. Visit to order copies of this book and the follow-on, More Psychic Roots.

McCornack’s story was originally published in “Relatively Speaking,” The Genealogical Helper (Nov-Dec 1990), page 24.

Snippet from _The Genealogical Helper_, Nov-Dec 1990, 24.Fortunately, McCornack posted his story on the Internet at . Unfortunately, AOL did away with this page when they eliminated their home pages service. Fortunately, the page was archived by the Internet Archive.

To read this wonderful story of serendipity in genealogy, click here.

P.S. To watch the delightful movie clip from Back to the Future Part II where the fictional Marty McFly receives a letter from the past (“70 years, 2 months, and 12 days to be exact”), click here.

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