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It’s a Small World

Mary Beth Fisher

When the Robson Ranch genealogy group Roping in the Relatives formed, I was excited to be one of the original members and to participate in establishing the guidelines for what has become in 2021, an exciting educational club that meets twice a month.

Every Tuesday I was so excited and could hardly wait, as I knew the meeting would be filled with humor and excitement as the members shared their findings. Listening to stories that ranged from a member who wondered her whole life about her biological family, with help of experienced Robson researchers, finds her sisters and soon we too met her new family. A lifelong mystery solved with wonderful results.

So many wonderful stories that often filled the room with laughter and much enthusiasm one evening, a resident shared her family story when she discovered they had been members of a circus. Her style of storytelling left the room laughing hysterically.

I was always searching for some history on my mother who died at 53. I desperately wanted to know about her childhood. I was very close with her but I regretted that I never asked her questions. One Tuesday evening when we were sharing our history, Marsha Caldwell (who sadly passed away last year), a resident who actually lived down the street from me, shared her story and we discovered we grew up in neighboring coal mining towns in Wyoming. Soon we discovered our mothers went to high school together. Marcia’s mom who was alive at the time, searched her yearbooks and found one photo of my mom in her junior year, not another photo existed. I knew my mother had to leave school to take care of the family as her mother was ill. Two years ago, Marsha brought me a copy. I discovered my mother went by many names, Annie Catherine, Katherine Ann, Kathleen, and Kay, which has brought challenges in searching.

As a coal miner’s daughter and granddaughter, I remember my parents telling me the Tennessee Ernie Ford song “16 Ton” was really what life was for coal miners in Wyoming. I discovered a book “The Day the Whistle Blew” which chronicles the life of a young girl, who would be my age and lived near Rock Springs, my hometown. The story of her parents, their photos, and the places they went, brought me right back to my childhood. Both our fathers traveled to this vast desert from lush homelands, mine Northern Minnesota, what a shock it was to see nothing but dust and tumbleweeds. Her parents met as mine did at the PLAYMOOR dance hall. These tall handsome men who were excellent dancers met these beautiful auburn haired Irish girls and established a life in very trying situations. My handsome father fell in love with this green-eyed beauty and loved her dearly till she passed—no matter what name she called herself.

This book had a profound effect on me, it was like an in-person genealogy trip back to my life, my schools, my church, and names I remembered, often parents of my friends. My interest in genealogy was born in Ropin’ in the Relatives, and has not yet been satisfied. I invite you to come join us. You never know what you will discover in this small world.