I was eager to research my Springer ancestors, having heard they might be descended from one of three Jewish brothers who came from Germany by way of Sweden. Neither of my parents had Jewish roots that I was aware of. The first step would be to review what I already knew about my Springer ancestors.
I headed for the storage room. A previous homeowner finished part of the attic, creating an extra bedroom. My husband and I use that bedroom to store the Christmas tree and other things we don’t need very often. Within a few minutes, I located the box which contained my family tree. There was a twinge of guilt as I wished I had found the box when my father asked about Grandma Springer’s letters shortly before his death. I grabbed the box and took it downstairs.
Sitting at the dining room table, I began unpacking the box. First, I removed the family tree from its folder and reviewed the names of my Springer ancestors. The name that caught my eye was George Washington Springer, my great great grandfather. My thoughts drifted back in time nearly forty years to the day when Grandpa and Grandma Springer helped me with my family tree assignment. I had always wondered…was George Washington Springer real, or was it a name Grandpa Springer made up?
I continued looking through the box and located George Washington Springer’s family data sheet. It was void of useful information such as dates of birth and death. All it contained was the name of his son, Charles Elmer Springer. Next, I located my great grandfather’s family data sheet. It contained my great grandmother’s name, Mary Jane Eaton, and the names of their children. My Springer great grandparents had five sons and a daughter. Although the family data sheet contained their names, there was very little additional information about them. It occurred to me, I could have a lot of second cousins I had never met.
Moving to the computer, I typed George Washington Springer into Google. The top search result was from Ancestry.com. It included dates of birth and death for George Washington Springer, his wife, and several children. One son was named Charles Lewis Springer. I wondered if he could be my great grandfather. Examining the information closer, I noted Charles Lewis Springer was born after Grandpa Springer. I quickly concluded these were not my ancestors.
Returning to the search results page, I was amazed how many families had someone named George Washington Springer. It was in that moment I realized I wasn’t going to find a list of my Springer ancestors through Google. Being brand new to online genealogy research, I wasn’t sure what resources were available to help me find my Springer ancestors. I had heard of Ancestry.com, but I certainly didn’t want to spend money to join. I just wanted to know if my Springer family traced its roots to one of the three Jewish brothers. I wasn’t sure what to do next.
Returning to the box on the dining room table, I located the folder which contained Grandma Springer’s letters. As I read her letters, I was intrigued by them. They were full of teasers. They told little pieces of bigger stories begging to be discovered.