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Trouble and Missed Flight Leads to Serendipity in Seattle

Thank goodness Chris tripped, was rushed to the hospital, and we missed our flight or I may have missed out on this discovery.

2016-09-09 19.51.02Late Friday evening my wife and two friends departed from the Vancouver International Airport in British Columbia for the last leg of our Legacy Genealogy Cruise. After a week's absence, we would soon be greeted by our families at the airport in Boise, Idaho. When our delayed flight landed in Seattle and we knew that we may miss our connection, we began to run for the next gate. The next thing I knew, Chris was on the concrete walkway, face down, dripping blood from his forehead. Somehow he tripped and landed face first. Dazed, and no doubt in pain, we made it into the terminal where the paramedics were soon on the scene. The large gash above his left eye needed immediate attention and so before we knew it, Chris and his wife boarded the ambulance and were rushed to the airport. He gave a thumbs up on his way out. Yesterday he had a headache and some new stitches, and is doing much better.

Later, we discovered who tripped him. Because of what happened next, we're placing the blame on my ancestor, Loring Lowell.

The day before we left for the cruise, the divorce case papers for my ancestor, Marsden Brown, arrived in my mailbox. While it was a sad case to read, it gave me what I hoped for - the names of his two daughters' husbands. They've been very difficult to find, and when I wasn't eating, sleeping, teaching or rappelling on our cruise, I was thinking of how excited I was to return home to follow my new leads.

In the midst of the excitement (probably the wrong word though...) at the airport, my flight was rescheduled for a couple of hours later, while our friends wouldn't return home until the next morning. So while our trip didn't end on a happy note, my ancestors seemed to keep calling.

Tanya and I sat down and tried to decipher the name of Mary E.'s husband from the divorce papers. Take a look, what do you think it is:


Studying the other a's and 0's in the document, I concluded that his name must be Larin Lowell. Tanya thought it read Lorin Lowell. To prove that I've actually learned something in our 19 years of marriage, I went with her recommendation and began searching for a Lorin Lowell on my phone. 

I first found a Loring W. Lowell in the 1880 census, age 26 (born 1854 in Maine), living in Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota. He was listed as being married, but wasn't living with his wife. Most interestingly, Marsden Brown, his possible father-in-law, was also living in Brainerd.


Next, I found who appears to be the same person, Loring N. Lowell, in the 1930 census living in Alaska. He was widowed at this time.


Interesting - we just spent 7 days in Alaska.

Next, I found Lorang Lowell in the 1940 census living in Seattle, Washington. Seattle! That's where I was sitting right then. Again, based on the age and birthplace, it appeared to be the same person as before.


Next, I found Lorning N. Lowell in the Washington Death Certificates index. He died in Seattle on May 18, 1945 at the age of 91 years 4 months and 4 days, suggesting a birth year of 1854.

Finally, I found an 1878 Minneapolis marriage record of Loring N. Lowell to Mary Brown - both of Hennepin County, Minnesota where Marsden's divorce case was filed.


I'll of course follow up on these findings with other research, but it appears that I've identified the correct husband and marriage record for Marsden Brown's daughter. Amazing the research we can do with our phones now, isn't it? Maybe it helped that I was wearing the right shirt too.


While I likely would eventually have found Loring Lowell later at home, it seems he couldn't wait. He was on my mind as we explored Alaska. He was on my mind as we waited in Seattle. He lived in both places. Did he have a hand (or a foot) in Chris' fall Friday night in the airport causing all of us to miss our flight? Maybe, maybe not. But it sure seems like a coincidence to me. Some might call this serendipity. At the very least, we made lemonade out of lemons that night.



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Goeff, remember we genealogists say there is no such thing as coincidence! I thought I remembered you saying that...........

So glad you are having great luck with those papers
Carol Schwartzbauer.

Goeff Did you get the copy of the Death Certificate? Family Search has been digitizing the Washington Death Certificates! http://wasgs.org/blog/2016/08/01/seattle-genealogical-society-tip-of-the-week-28/


My 2nd great grandfather named Laurent but in different censuses he was Loring, Loren or Laurent. These were all Canadian census records. I finally found his birth and marriage records with the name Laurent. Also the church records for his sons marriage his name was Laurent. So I am sticking with that. Frustrating because of hand writing mis-communication. Glad you found what you were looking for.

Wow, Charles, I had no idea. You're always helping me along! Thanks, I did just locate it.

Poor Chris!!!! Hi, guy! Get better fast.

Hi Geoff,
Here's Loring's obituary:

Funeral services for Loring N. Lowell, 91 years old, an Alaska pioneer and last direct descendant of the pioneer New England family which founded the town of Lowell, Mass., will be held at 11 o’clock tomorrow in the Johnson & Sons chapel, followed by cremation. The Rev. W. I. Wilder will officiate. He died Friday evening at his home, 1620 13th Av.
Mr. Lowell, born in Plymouth Mass came west from Minneapolis at the age of 19. He opened the first restaurant in Skagway, Alaska in 1887 and did the cooking for the establishment. During the early days of Alaska he at one time boarded the first territorial governor, Major Walsh, in his home.
Mr. Lowell prospected for gold during the Gold Rush and began working for the Alaska Railway when it was first launched into the pioneer territory. He began his employ with the company when 60 years old and retired 20 years later. He leaves no survivors.

Seattle Daily Times (Published as The Seattle Sunday Times) - May 20, 1945, page 24

Holy moly Mary!!! Wow, way to go and thanks so much! Oh how I wish I knew about his Skagway connection last week. Maybe he was there watching my wife and I go rappelling.

so much genealogy to do and it warms my heart when someone gets such great news of information!

Geoff, I hope that Chris is recovering quickly, and I'm excited for your new discoveries! Sometimes it seems like our departed ancestors put things in front of us so we can't help but trip over them. Thank you so much for putting together a great cruising experience for us and for all the new tricks and things that I learned in class.
Best regards, Juli

So glad Chris is okay and that he heals quickly. As far as your great news, sometimes we get lucky when we least expect it. It's like another force is out there guiding us, if we just listen and follow.

This is wonderful Geoff. I just love it when one thing leads to another and another. There are no coincidences in genealogy. Even when bad things happen, I always think how good can come of it. I see that you do the same thing.

Like a friend of mine always says, "They'll be found when they are ready to be found." And I think it's really true.

Now Chris will have a nice scar to remind him of his first genealogy cruise. ha! Geoff did you do the genealogy happy dance at the airport?

This post about more missing Browns and your trip to Alaska and the Skagway and Seattle and putting together genealogical puzzles is definitely another chapter for your book KINDRED VOICES ( which I just finished as it came with my recent T-shirt purchase). I have to say I felt a little spooked when I read this recent account !

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