What are the odds of this happening?

Yesterday I had one of those great “SMALL WORLD!” moments. I was doing some genealogical research, updating my database and checking for records pertaining to the family of Dad’s closest Y-DNA (paternal line) match, a fellow named Rick Lewis. I came upon the Find-a-Grave memorial for Rick’s mother, who had passed away in 2020, complete with her obituary. Surviving siblings included her brother Dale Kester and wife Rita.

These names jumped off the page at me–I recognized them immediately. In 1982, Dad had taken a genealogical road trip to western New York, visiting family history sites. No one was at home when he drove by the house and land of our ancestors, Caleb and Joanna Lewis in Farmersville, Cattaraugus County, but Dad wanted to make contact with the current residents. He was able to obtain their names from the county historian, and after his return home, he wrote a letter to them—their names were Dale and Rita Kester. They were living in the house Caleb built in the early 1820s!

Rita kindly responded to Dad’s letter and shared an aerial photo of the property as it had looked in 1962. It was an incredible connection for us at the time, but as genealogy contacts generally go, we only exchanged those couple of letters in 1982. Yesterday, I was able to quickly locate the letters in my “Caleb & Joanna Lewis” file (we always kept carbon copies of the ones we typed and mailed, as well as return correspondence). Another letter I had mailed to them about 10 years later was returned to sender, so they had apparently moved by that time.

Dale is Rick’s uncle on his mother’s side, so is not genetically related to the Lewis line, but still–what are the odds of accidentally stumbling upon this connection almost 40 years later? The uncle and aunt of Dad’s closest Y-DNA match LIVED in the home of Dad’s brick wall Y-DNA ancestor. Unbelievable!

You can’t make this stuff up.

Home of Caleb and Joanna Lewis, ca 1860s, with a subsequent owner standing out front.
Courtesy of Mildred Edmunds, Cattaraugus County Historian
Home of Caleb and Joanna Lewis as it appeared in 1993 when I was there on a trip with my husband, Pete.
Aerial photo of Caleb Lewis home, 1962, courtesy of Rita Kester.

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