Monday, August 15, 2011

Look and Look Again and Just Keep Looking

In my previous post, I made reference to a probate record for Jane Gillespie Greer which I found earlier this year. It mentions she had a son, James Greer, who in 1868 was residing here:

I gave up looking at this. It really looks like the first word is "Denmark" but the second word? Ugh. Like I said, it's been nothing more than a meaningless scribble. Until last night.

Sometimes if I stare at something unintelligible really really hard, turn my head sideways, then scrunch up my face and blink really fast, I can shake my brain loose from what it thinks it is seeing and I can see what's always been there. (I learned this technique from keeping a Magic Eye book on the coffee table.) Well, suddenly all my experience with old German handwriting from doing my Dad's side of the tree came to the foreground. That letter that looks like a "p" is actually a German eszett and represents a double-"s" in English. Once I realized that, the word just popped out - Tennessee! And yes, Denmark, Tennessee is a real place. Oh my gosh.

So this is exciting for a couple reasons. First just because of the fun of finally "getting it", the puzzle. Secondly, this clue opens a whole new door in my research box. I've been beating my head for nearly two years trying to find Greer's from Orange County, New York because that was the only clue given in the land deeds of the Gillespie/Greer pioneers who arrived in Oakland County, Michigan. Why would I ever look in Tennessee? Now of course, I will look, if only I can keep the magic eye open.

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