Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oct 1 - Anniversary of our trip to Kansas!

Ralph and Arlene Copeland, Maxine Copeland, Virginia Copeland Noble, Fran Copeland Gardner, Cousette Copeland, and George Copeland
One year ago, my sister and I traveled to Coffeyville KS to meet our Copeland, Finney, and McKay relations. Only the year before that, I didn't know of their existance. I began my ancestry research in late 2007/early 2008. By early 2009, I found out about my grandfather's family from an online Copeland genealogy created by Nancy Jones. From that I was able to develop my family tree, but best of all - I began contacting cousins! Many were cousins once or twice removed, but some were my Dad's cousins. They were my people - blood of my blood!

I found these cousins by using the Internet white pages and mailing out letters. Ralph Copeland got my letter, and took copies to his cousin Virginia Copeland Noble, and she mailed a copy to her brother George Copeland and his wife Maxine in Missouri. Ralph gave me the contact information for Melvin Koons in Arizona, and an active exchange of phone calls, letters, and emails brought my sister and I to Kansas.

During that time, I had also been in contact with Finney descendants. My Dad's grandmother was a Finney. So Harold and Bonney Finney invited me to the annual Finney reunion, which had been going on since 1890 or so. Another Finney descendant was Dale Williams, who invited us to stop by as soon as we flew into Tulsa, OK. We met him and his wife Barbara, visited, had dinner, and then saw them at the Finney reunion.

Barbara and Dale Williams
George and Maxine drove 3 hrs from Missouri to Coffeyville, and acted as tour guides, along with Virginia. They took us around Kansas, the family farm (which has been in the family since 1891), and the graveyards. In the evening, Ralph and Arlene Copeland joined us for a visit and dinner. We all went to the Finney reunion, where we met many Finney relations.

Harold and Bonnie Finney
Fran and I took a break from the reunion to visit my Dad's McKay cousin - Peggy Worl, who let us visit with her family and then shared photos and momentos. She gave us a treasured gift that her family had been saving - a handkerchief made in 1898 by my grandmother Agnes Elizabeth McKay! It was a hanky that had an intricate lace tatting border, which had been taught to her by her Scottish mother Margaret McKinlay McKay.

Debbie and Peggy Worl
When we left Coffeyville, we drove up to Hutchinson where we visited with another McKay relation - Donna St. Aubyn, and her husband Randy. They hosted us to lunch and shared photos and stories. Then we went with Donna to visit her mother Dorothy McKay Schwartz, who was another cousin to my Dad. 95 year old Dorothy was sharp as a tack and delighted to know that we were "Delos" children.
Randy and Donna St. Aubyn

Cousette, Fran, and Dorothy McKay Schwartz
I haven't met Melvin and Earlene Koons in Arizona yet, but I hope to in 2011. Melvin had his mother Pearl Copeland Koons' magic trunk, that supplied hundreds of photos and treasures which were shared in my book "An American Genealogy: The Copelands of Montgomery County Kansas."

Our trip was too short, but we did meet all our cousins/cuzzins - and we have a richer, fuller life because of them.

It's been 1 year, and since then a lot has happened. Dale Williams died suddenly during surgery a month after we met him. In May 2010, George Copeland celebrated his 90th birthday. In June 2010, Arlene Copeland passed. Life goes on for the Copelands, Finneys, and McKays - and I am so glad to know all of them!

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