"Clementines and the Rembrandt Book"
size: 16 x 12 inch, unframed
copyright 2011 MaryAnn Cleary
About the painting: This painting is painted from life and is a still life setup in my studio. There is a bowl of clementines next to an old biography on Rembrandt. In an old dark stoneware jar are some dried hydrangeas. It is painted in oil on a linen canvas.
The past few days, my life seems to be playing hide and seek with my past. It all started when I saw an old school class portrait of my grandmother that hangs on my wall. It is dated 1906 and she is shown with the rest of her class each having a small head-style black and white photo. The school is the Saskatchewan Normal School in Canada. So how did she manage to go to school there when she lived in Nebraska. I knew she had taught school before being married. I knew that she married at an older age later than most.
I would often ask my Dad about our family history, especially his parents. He would tell me that his parents were Irish, German and Norwegian. He would say that there had been three Martins who lived in Minnesota. He also said something about one of our ancestors being a sheriff of St. Paul, Minnesota. In the past, I have searched and searched trying get any information, but all of them seemed to just add more questions and dead-ends.
Recently, something changed. I found a free internet search called familysearch.com provided by the LDS church. I did a quick search for my grandmother, Mary, and her spouse, Martin. What? A marriage license? A copy of it? Really! What an invaluable piece of documentation. Marriage licenses from Montana are all listed on this site with actual digital copies of the original piece of documentation. From the one incredible document, I found the names of both Martin and Mary's parents along with their mother's maiden names. The door had opened like Pandora's box. The addiction of finding out my genealogy had started.
I now know not only my great grandparents names, but many of my great, great grand parents....all of them. Most actually immigrated to Canada and then the U.S. This is good since the Canadian government has an incredible genealogical archive....(and another one http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/ )all free. For now, I am putting the pieces together a little at a time, but it is amazing to find a name and know that that person is my great, great, great grandfather or grandmother.