Connections

Hello avid Whaley followers!

Today I’ve been doing a lot of work and research for our Volunteer Expo on June 13 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm (you can see an awesome MLive article about it here). Well, this research on Flint’s history got me thinking about historical connections. Connections of all kinds really, whether they be familial, professional, or community-based.  Now here’s a good story for you.

A few weeks ago the Whaley House Museum hosted a rental for a 25th wedding anniversary. The party seemed to be progressing as usual…food, laughter, tear-inducing home videos, the works. Well, as people started mingling around, a guest asked me from where the desk in Mr. Whaley’s library came. I told the woman that it had been Mr. Whaley’s at Citizen’s Bank, but she was sure she could remember her grandparents owning the desk and giving it to the Museum upon their death. I related this story to another volunteer and she informed me that upon Mr. Whaley’s death, Mrs. Whaley had given it to their carriage driver, Frank Fowler. The desk remained with him and passed on to his children until they passed away. At that point, the Whaley House Museum had come into existence and it was donated. When I told this story to the woman, she let out an excited shriek and exclaimed “Frank Fowler was my great grandfather!”

Now, isn’t that exciting?! This woman, who didn’t even remember her great grandfather, found out that he was connected to the Whaley family! And I was able to meet someone connected to that family. Honestly, though, the look on her face when I printed out a picture of Fowler for her to keep made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It was a good day to be an historian.

Do you have any interesting historical connections? How did you feel when you found out? I always enjoyed watching that television show on NBC where celebrities investigated their ancestors. They always seemed so captivated by their family history. I even knew one of the consulting historians on an episode.  So dig around in your past. It may be messy, the digging may be boring, it may even be a little scary at times, but in the end you’ll be glad you did.

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