It's a common occurrence to run into someone you know. You are shopping at Walmart and see someone from your church, or maybe you are shown to a table at a restaurant and sitting at the next table is somebody from work. We all have those moments. But how often are you on vacation and see someone from back home? It happens—at least it's happened to me.
And how often, when you are on vacation, do you meet somebody who knows one of your family members?
Let me explain what I mean. Often when on vacation my husband and I would strike up a conversation with another couple, and the usual question would soon be asked. "Where are you folks from?" Or maybe someone would have noticed something on our car that indicated we were from Arkansas. On every trip—we watched for it—someone would say, "We met a girl from Arkansas earlier this summer (or last summer, or two years ago.) She was working at the camp our daughter went to/running our vacation Bible school/teaching a class/etc. Her name was . . ." And you can bet it was our daughter, Holly. These vacationers might be from California or Pennsylvania or Florida. It didn't matter where. On a vacation, we'd meet someone who knew or had met Holly. I'll admit she did get around a bit on her summer volunteer projects, but to meet people who knew her in a completely different state far away from either our home or theirs was something else. It was a coincidence that we came to expect wherever we went.
Another coincidence involving meeting people occurs regularly at our local genealogy library, The Melting Pot. It is a good sized place, having several thousand books. It is open two days a week, Monday and Friday from 10am to 2pm, and is staffed by volunteers. I work one day a month—the first Friday. It was already a joke that anybody who comes in to research their family tree always finds a cousin. That's because the 'regulars', the volunteers who work most often, were mostly born and raised in Garland County or the surrounding area, and are related to many of the founding families. A stranger can come in and when they leave they have a family.
I was working my Friday about six weeks ago. I was in a back aisle, matching index cards to books in the Texas section. I could hear what was going on 'up front', (we aren't a keep quiet kind of library) but I wasn't paying much attention, when I heard the name "Mehaffey". I spoke up. "I have Mehaffey's" I called out and went to where the conversation was.
I have to tell you first that although I and my parents moved to this county when I was a teen, neither I nor they were raised here. My parents were born and raised in Arkansas, but not in this county. Life took them other places and when they decided they wanted to move back to Arkansas, they chose this beautiful, artistic town to live. It is centrally situated in the state so they could reach their siblings and other loved ones within a few hours drive in one direction or another. Other than one of my children who now lives here, there are no relatives of mine in the county (but plenty of my husband's).
So the Mehaffey I was kin to wasn't in this county. Genealogists will recognize how I can stretch and find the kinship. My great-grandfather's sister married a Mehaffey in DeKalb County Georgia. He died (killed in the Civil War, I believe. Think the burning of Atlanta) and when the family moved from Georgia to Arkansas by covered wagon, sister Mehaffey and children came too. But not to this county.
So I went to the front of the library and explained the connection. The couple who were researching had come from Utah to find out more about her father's roots, and they came to the Melting Pot Library because of our size. In trading information, we never did find the exact connection between us, BUT (and this is important) she called up her DNA relatives on her laptop, and there I was. We ARE kin. We couldn't figure out exactly how, but we will.
What a coincidence! They came all the way from Utah, to a library that happened to be open the day of the week they ended up in Hot Springs, and it was the one day of the month I, a relative, was working, and I overheard the family name and recognized it.
Coincidence? Or God's way of remaining anonymous?