The Ghost Network: Connecting across generations

My Danish ancestors are apparently restless once again. Recently, in another close encounter of the ghost kind, I received a message on Facebook from a “stranger”.  As I read the young woman’s note, I felt as though a spectral hand had just reached out and touched me on the shoulder.  Her question was simple — was I related to the Henry and Maria Hollenstein who had lived near Salinas, California in the early 1900’s? 

After noticing that the surname of the “stranger” was the same as that of Maria Bonde Hollenstein’s brother-in-law,  I responded that, yes, I was their great-great granddaughter. Since then, a delightful correspondence has sprung up between me and my fourth cousin who, I have now learned,  is a teacher with a toddler and lives in Idaho.

Maria Bonde Hollenstein


I have shared information on our joint family that I have collected over the last thirty-some odd  years and enjoyed her delight in each new discovery. We have speculated, deliberated, and agonized over the missing pieces of the puzzle.  I have come to look forward to her notes and questions as a welcome diversion from my usual tax season routine.

In the process,  I have put her in touch with my other internet contact from my Danish ancestors and they are putting their heads together too.  We are women of three different generations descended from Danish immigrants who lived in Arizona a long time ago.  We are working together from three different states towards the common goal of knowing a bit more about some of our ancestors.  It kind of boggles my mind when I stop to think about it.

Maria Bonde Hollenstein

Although we may never actually meet face to face, we have reached out to each other via the social media network and the connection has been nothing short of magical.  I can hardly  wait for the next e-mail from either of my new friends or, dare I hope, from another connection on the ghost network.

Being (more than) a bit of an introvert, I put myself on the internet in a very modest sort of way, yet the unexpected returns that I have experienced have been incredible.  It really does boggle my mind to consider the returns that a carefully orchestrated social media campaign could yield.

Something to think about…

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