Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gaining Pounds the Healthy Way!

Webster’s dictionary defines “serendipity” as “a surprising and unexpected discovery”. During the past few months, “serendipity” is more than adequate to describe the unexpected find of Albert Hersel Pound’s (b. 12 Sep 36, d. 18 Feb 77) family, and mine too! A small tidbit of information I gathered in April during a trip to St. Louis, Missouri turned out to be crucial in guiding me to four living aunts, an uncle and over 15, first cousins I never knew I had.

Following my trip to St. Louis, I blogged about meeting the stepchildren of Albert Pounds and his second wife Marie Augustine. During a wonderful dinner at an Italian restaurant, I asked Brenda Pogano, Carol Loehr and Michael St. Onge for any information on Albert’s siblings. Unfortunately, the best they could recall, at least initially, were a few bits of information on Albert’s sisters. That included a few given names but no married names. It wasn’t until the end of the evening that one of Al’s brothers, Dewey, came up in the conversation. He was pointed out in a photo they provided that evening. Dewey, in the picture at beginning of this post, is the brother in the middle flanked by Al on the left and James Pounds on the right.

Armed with that bit of information on a potential uncle, a quick search of the Social Security Death registry online resulted in one record: Dewey G. Pounds, born 1 December 1939, died 3 November, 2008. It certainly seemed liked the “Dewey” my stepsiblings mentioned, but that had to be confirmed. I needed to find someone connected to the family in the Toledo, Ohio area to verify this and continue the hunt.

I started an online search for any “Pounds” in the Toledo area and expanded my search to adjacent towns in the immediate area. Once again, Facebook provided the next clue—Susan Pounds. I contacted Susan, but our initial email exchange didn’t prove any connections. Fortunately, a telephone follow-up several weeks later produced a breakthrough. Susan went online and read the blog post from my visit to St. Louis and recognized an individual in one of the photos. That person was James Wesley Pounds, Jr., the father of Susan’s late husband, Michael Pounds. I had finally found a connection to my Pounds roots two years in the making!

I learned from Susan that Michael had previously been married to Debbied Babel, also of Toledo.  Susan and Debbie have stayed in touch over the years and were both very helpful in sharing valuable information in my quest for the Pounds family.  They even took the time to help me contact James Pounds and his wife Barbara of Toledo, Ohio. After all these years, I picked up the phone and nervously dialed my newly discovered uncle.

The lengthy phone call to James and Barbara opened the door that I had hoped would one day swing open. All it took was a little luck and a couple of phone calls. James and Barbara answered many questions about Albert, his parents and siblings. During our conversation, I also uncovered one interesting tidbit (among many) that I recall my mother mentioning to me many years ago. According to James, my parents actually came to Toledo to live when my mother was expecting me!

I do recall my mother telling me that the trip to Toledo was only intended to be a brief visit. However, after a short stay with James, Albert and my mother (Sharon) relocated back to Springfield. James went on to say that Al couldn’t find employment in the Toledo area and only moved back after an exhaustive job search. I was also told my parents even rented an apartment just prior to moving back to Missouri. James believes a great deal of my father’s failure to find work was due to his diabetes and general poor health. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder how my life would have changed had my parents decided to stay.

Following up on my conversation with James and Barbara, I was put in contact with a newly discovered cousin, William Kopcznski of Florida. Bill helped fill me in on the various aunts and uncles along with the many first cousins we share. James then put me in touch with one of my aunts, Virginia Gedert and her daughter Cheryl Gedert of Toledo, Ohio. Both Virginia and Cheryl have been incredibly helpful in providing additional family details to include birth dates and information about my grandparents, James W. and Lora (Mills) Pounds.

In the weeks following the basic introductory conversations and emails, I have learned much about my grandfather and grandmother, their children and a few facts about my great grandparents as well. As I had suspected, Lora was a Missourian and lived in the Bootheel area of the state. I also confirmed that my grandfather was indeed born in Tennessee as I suspected.

During the past few months, I have been adding to my family tree at a feverous clip. I can say with great confidence and for the first time in my life that the several “Pounds” I have gained in the process has been a healthy thing!

1 comment:

  1. I would like to offer a hearty "thanks" to both Susan Pounds and Debbie Babel for catching an error in this post. The original article created on August 27 had their relationship to my late cousin Michael Pounds reversed. That oversight has been corrected--sorry about that. I appreciate and look forward to any and all comments in an effort to accurately tell the family history!