Finding A Needle In A Haystack?; It Can Happen When You Least Expect It And Are Not Even Looking For It!!; A Couple Of Pictures And A YouTube Video Included In This Post

Hi Everyone!

Tony Kierna 022415 4As genealogical researchers we can work extremely hard and not make any headway.  Records are not there for us to discover but we do just keep working our research efforts in back door ways to overcome our brick walls.

We all wish for genealogy Karma.  We all wish for miracles.  We all want those serendipity moments to come in our direction.

I just want to relate to you one of those moments that happened to me.  This moment was not related to discovering an ancestral record but was rather related to me just seeing a book on display on one of our library counters and then putting “2 and 2” together to discover something  related to my life.

First off you know I work at the Schaumburg Township District Library and am surrounded by literally hundreds of thousands of books.  One day I was walking past one of our book displays and one particular book caught my attention.  It was a book titled “The Archdiocese of Chicago: A Journey of Faith”.  The call number of the book in our collection is ILLINOIS COLLECTION 282.773 KANTOWIC, E.  The author of the book is Edward R. Kantowicz.  It is a large size book that might be referred to as a “coffee table” book.

The book literally provides some great pictures of the many Roman Catholic churches that are in the city of Chicago and the suburbs that are in the Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese.  It also provides some small summary information about the history of the parish.  It also provides background information on the Archdiocese of Chicago.

I kept staring at the cover of the book because something just looked familiar that at first I could not put my hands on.  It was the statues of the angels that made me look deeper.  The more I looked the more I realized that the cover picture of the book was taken from the rooftop area of St. Mary of the Angels Catholic church in Chicago looking eastward towards the Loop.  That was my parish church for what seemed a lifetime!  It is a massive church when I was growing up and it still is.  You can see the church if you are going eastbound on the Kennedy Expressway at Armitage Avenue (2000N at 1600W) going into Chicago.  It is on the right side of the expressway.  The church has a giant dome and looks somewhat like St. Peter’s Church in Rome!

That was my church on the cover of this book with a picture being taken from the rooftop of the church probably about 150 feet in the air!

 Cover Picture Of The Book “Archdiocese of Chicago: A Journey of Faith”

I flipped through some more of the pages of the book and found another rooftop picture from the top of the church facing a little more eastward to the city.  This picture made me even look still deeper because the homes in the background a few streets away looked familiar.

Yep!  I could actually see the rooftop and back porch area of the 3 flat that I grew up in as a child!

Added Picture From “Archdiocese of Chicago: A Journey of Faith” Showing Rooftop Of House Where I Grew Up (Circled)”

What are the chances of just walking by a book in our collection that highlights on the front cover my own church I went to for many years and then to see another picture in the book in which I can see the house I grew up as a child!

It is like really discovering the missing needle in the haystack!  Or, finding the one grain of sand among millions.  What are the chances I would see that book at that moment, put “2 and 2” together and then actually see the house where I grew up visible in the background of the many houses surrounding this church.

I asked our Graphics Department to capture the cover image of the book as well as the other interior page image of the book that shows the house I grew up in marked with a “circle”.  I wanted to share this unlikely and unexpected discovery with all of you.

It does not add anything to my personal research but it amazes me how I was at the right place at the right time and genealogy karma flowed over me!

Here is a full picture of the church that you can compare to the rooftop views from the church I discovered in the book.  Note the angels at the rooftop level near the midpoint of the bell towers!  The photographer must have been standing at the roof level in between the bell towers looking down at the street right in front of the church!

St. Mary of the Angels Church

I guess it is true, you never know what will just jump out at you when you are not even looking for something.  One book being displayed among thousands is all it took in this case!

In addition to all of the above pictures I found an amazing 4 minute video on YouTube of what I believe is someone flying a drone to an incredible height to take a video of the church posted back in July 2014.

You can see the video right here:

Karma, serendipity or just plain luck!

Who knows what waiting around the corner for you to discover in an unexpected way related to your own life!

Tony Kierna
Genealogy Coordinator
Schaumburg Township District Library

4 responses to “Finding A Needle In A Haystack?; It Can Happen When You Least Expect It And Are Not Even Looking For It!!; A Couple Of Pictures And A YouTube Video Included In This Post

  1. A great story !

    • Hi Les,

      I am glad you enjoyed it. I still think of it as an encounter with genealogical “karma” to be at the right place at the right time and then be able to still figure it out. As researchers, we all know that we have plenty of unanswered questions in our discoveries. For me, I can check this mystery off of my list!

      Tony Kierna
      Genealogy Coordinator
      Schaumburg Township District LIbrary

  2. Truly a gift of a find! Think of all the residences in the old neighborhood that have been demolished. I’m lucky enough to have a deed to my dad’s old apartment building, but when you Google the address, you get a picture of the Kennedy Expressway. You have a sharp eye and I’m glad you did a little detective work on analyzing that photo!

    • Hi Celeste,

      Serendipity can be everything! It started with a gut feeling that allowed me to connect the dots. Doing genealogical detective work is always so much fun, more so when you actually solve a puzzle!

      I personally feel so very lucky that the connection to my young life via the church, the school and our home are all still present. I have driven by the area at times over the last years just to activate all of my great memories. It does have to be difficult to discover that such connections to our past and those of our ancestors may be nothing more than empty lots or newly constructed buildings. You experienced that when you saw a picture of the Kennedy Expressway instead of the real building associated with an ancestor.

      I did give myself a pat on the back after I put all the pieces together. You and I know that we often have more unsolved mysteries than solved ones so it felt good to solve this one.

      Thanks for your comment. Perhaps your genealogy “karma” is right around the corner!

      Tony Kierna
      Genealogy Coordinator
      Schaumburg Township District Library

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