I recently wrote an article in the Families In British India Society Journal on Using Social Networking for Family History Research. Social networking sites have helped me with my research on a number of occassions, most recently two weeks ago when I received a friendship request on Facebook from a Dan MacKinnon.
First let me explain some backround history.
My father was born Duane Edward MacKinnon, but his parents divorced when he was a baby and when his mother remarried his step father adopted him. My Dad didn’t try to find his paternal family until about twelve years ago, but unfortunately his father had already passed away. He did, however, manage to find his father’s sister and even his half-brother and half-sister from his fathers second marriage.
A few years later I started to research the MacKinnon family now I had a few names to go by. I didn’t have to look very hard though as I was lucky enough to find a cousin, Gary Llewelyn, who had spent many years researching the MacKinnon and Jackson/Jacklin family and we quickly figured out where our branch fitted into the tree. He sent me a huge envelope of all his research, copies of family photos and poetry my Great Great Grandmother had written.
I managed to locate many more family members through The Island Register website and this prompted my Dad to drive from Maine, where he lived at the time, to Prince Edward Island, where is fathers family came from, and he met up with a few of the cousins I had found for him.
Things on the MacKinnon line then went quiet for many years and I concentrated on my British Indian roots and my work as webmaster and trustee for the Families In British India Society.
A recent magazine article on one of my ancestors also prompted me to rethink my own personal family history website and the presentation/disclosure of information. Hence the recent development of this website.
Dan MacKinnon’s friendship request from Facebook arrived just as I was moving over my Prince Edward Island family history data to this website! I clicked on his friendship request to view Dan’s profile and see if there was further details that could confirm we were related and opened my family tree. My son asked what I was doing and I explained. He looked at Dan’s profile picture and shouted “Cool! We’re related to Santa!” (see Dan’s profile picture on the right). There weren’t any further clues on Daniel’s facebook page other than he lived in Georgia. Looking at the family tree Gary and Gloria sent me many years ago I could see several Daniel MacKinnon’s, but only one who hadn’t passed away yet. The remaining Daniel MacKinnon on the tree was the son of Alexander Clyde MacKinnon and Nell Vann. Looking at the poem A Vacation Ends written by my Great Great Grandmother Margaretta Susannah MacKinnon that Gary and Gloria had sent me I found further clues. Part of the poem goes “Our next stop was Georgia..so we started out once more and arrived at the Vans house shortly after four..”
So I promptly accepted Dan’s friendship request and asked him if his parents were Alexander Clyde MacKinnon and Nell Vann. He confirmed they were. I now had contact with another first cousin 2 x removed!
Dan asked me if I had been in contact with a few other cousins that the family had lost contact with, so I decided it was time to see if any fresh leads could be found after not looking at this branch for nearly a decade. Taking a break from researching a particular branch and going back to it later always seems to provide a surprising amount of fresh leads. Plus more information is now available on the internet than there was ten years ago. I soon found another first cousin 2 x removed living not far from my Dad, who was now living in Wyoming!
I thought I would let my Dad make first contact with cousin Areta MacKinnon’s daughter, Donetta, seeing as he lived several thousand miles closer than I did in the UK! I sent her address and phone number to my Dad and he phoned Donetta that evening a they hope to meet up soon.
Dan recently visited his sister Alice and they scanned some more family photographs, a couple of which illustrate this article and are shown as appearing courtesy of Dan MacKinnon. Dan and Alice have sent me many more which Dan is happy to share with other family members, so if you think you have a family connection and would like to see them please get in touch. More details, including family charts and photographs, of the MacKinnon family can be found on my Prince Edward Island page.
I have since had another friendship request via Facebook from another family member, but I have yet to hear back from her to see how she fits in to my MacKinnon family.
Facebook gets a lot of bad publicity regarding its privacy issues, but as long as you don’t provide any more information than you are happy to provide when opening your account you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Without Facebook I might not have ever been in contact with Dan and wouldn’t have had copies of so many more family photographs. Never having met my Grandfather, or the rest of the MacKinnon family, these photograph’s and stories mean so much to me.
I look forward to seeing what fresh leads, information or family photos Dads visit with Donnetta provides.
So I might not be related to Santa, but I do feel like Christmas has come early! Thanks Dan! 🙂