Discovering my Grandfather Through Genealogical Research

My Grandfather and Great Uncle both went to Rose Hulman which is a university located in Terre Haute, Indiana. In the “old days” it was called Rose Polytechnic Institute. As part of my family’s genealogical research, I like to find the facts and figures on my family members, but I also enjoy trying to piece together their personality’s way before I was born.

I came up with a novel idea of calling the university that both my Great Uncle and Grandfather attended, and wanted to know if they still had any information on them from 100 years ago.

I called the school and asked how to research their admission such as their application information and transcripts. The school was very cordial and transferred me to their Archives librarian, and he turned out to be a gem!

He did the research for me in a matter of 30 minutess….called me back and told me:

Russell Carson Stockmaster (my great uncle) lived on 1428 Grand Ave in Terre Haute Indiana. He graduated from Garfield High School in Terre Haute, Indiana. The librarian gave his birth date and told me his father was Charles J Stockmaster who was a glassblower by trade.

Russell entered college on Sept 13, 1916 and graduated on June 9, 1921. Russell was drafted into the Army Oct 1, 1918 and was released on Dec 17, 1918. The records showed he died in 1922.

All of this information out of some obscure book in the reference section!!!! I was given the information immediately, instead of waiting for weeks for a postal service letter or email. That fact in itself is fantastic. In years gone by, before the computer, we genealogists used to wait for weeks and months for a letter in the mail answering our genealogical questions.

Now on the other hand…..

My grandfather Fred was a very successful, certified road engineer. I have his Indiana Road Engineer Certificate framed and hanging on my wall in his honor. The librarian told me Fred started college Sept 17, 1919 and failed his sophomore year in 1921. Fred then came back for “another round” and failed his junior year, with the librarian reciting the entire subjects that Fred failed or made a “D” in. He never went back.

I was flabbergasted! I figured my grandpa as a “brain” especially in math, and algebra was what he failed!! He was one of the head engineers that built the Indiana Toll Road, too boot!!!

My Grandpa never talked much, so to find out this information is pretty cool. I don’t feel so bad now with my first college experience back in the 70’s. The only thing that puzzled me was the fact he didn’t defend me while I was having a hard time at school. He could have said, “Look at me! I made it without a college degree. Give the kid a break.” Nope, not a word, just that look he had at times.

I went back to college three years ago.  It has been 37 years since I have sat in a classroom, and my how things changed! The students call the profs by their first name, and the 20 something profs were calling ME by my first name! The classes were small, and many of the students didn’t bother to do their homework, working out a deal with the prof to email it by the morning. I could tell the generation gap between myself and the other students, which made me grow intellectually as well as boosting my self-esteem.

I graduated the second time around with a Bachelors of Science degree in Organizational Management along with graduating cum laude to top it off! I bet Grandpa Fred was smiling down on me as I walked across the graduation stage.

(I did it for you and me, Fred! Rest in peace.)


About hoosierbeth

I have been researching my ancestors, your ancestors and everybody else's since 1981.
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