While searching for clues in my family tree I came across a tree written a man named Harvey Abbott. His aunt had the same information as my great-grandmother. I read and it seemed that they were the same. I sent an email to him and he asked me a few pointed questions, "Do you know if they were Christian Scientists?" Yup, that's them.
We began sharing notes and it turned into a 12 year collaboration. The first cousin of my grandfather turned out to be my closest genealogy collaborator. In looking at my inbox from him, there are well over 3,600 emails from his third email account (I haven't added up the first two emails). After he retired he traveled the country taking photos and collecting documents of our shared family. He was good at collecting the info, just not so good at recording it. For that, he relied on me and just emailed it all to me.
He has done some really ground-breaking research. He and other researchers have pushed back brick walls with good sound detective work, document collection, and DNA analysis. I am always in awe of how he can dig a document out of a courthouse that couldn't be found anywhere else.
He had posted (part of) his tree to WikiTree and I came to look at it and it was what brought me to become a WikiTree member.
He is a member of the Sons of the Revolution (NSSAR) and his qualifying ancestor is one of our shared ancestors. It was through his application that I was able to "piggyback" and apply and save a lot of time and work.
I have always worried that if something happened to Harvey (he's getting up there in his age) that I would never know about it. He had forwarded me his son's family's Christmas photos and I noticed that the son and his wife's email addresses were in the forwarded text. I asked Harvey if I could reach out to them, "just in case." He gave his blessing before New Years. And then I forgot about it...
I've been looking for the death record of my great-grandmother (his aunt) for some years. Just a few nights ago I finally found it. I emailed it to him and this set off a flurry of emails between us. For two days we were back and forth and I also with my mother comparing notes and family stories.
It was on Thursday night that he finished out one of his emails with this sentence:
My health is really deteriorating so if there is anything you want to know you better ask. My heart is not functioning Weill at all.
I emailed him back the next morning and gave him instructions to add me to all of his profiles, add an afterlife statement to his profile, and to box up all of his genealogy docs so that I could scan them.
Then I went and sent an email to his son and daughter-in-law.
Almost immediately, his son replied to me and we were sending emails back and forth. Simultaneously, I was still emailing with Harvey. His son asked to give me a call and he did and we spent nearly an hour and a half on the phone chatting. I'd never talked to him before and we really hit it off. We're of similar age, same number of children, similar work adventures, same political views, etc.
We signed off and I went about my day.
A few hours later, I received another call. It was Harvey's family calling me back to tell me that Harvey had just died. After he and I exchanged breakfast emails, he went out for a walk - about the same time I was talking with his son, it appears that he had a heart attack and never made it home.
I was so sad. When he said his health was deteriorating, I thought he meant months or a few years, not 12 hours. I was (and still am) so sad about it. I am thankful for the time we have had and all of the research we have conducted but I am regretful that I didn't spend more time on the part of the tree that we share together. After he died I opened his tree and began digging and immediately found some new ancestors and I wished I could share the news with him.
But now he is so far away.
Harvey Martin Joseph Abbott (1942 - 2020)
Before the team closed his account as a WikiTree member, I awarded him a Family Star:
Awarded by SJ Baty who wrote: I cannot think of a recipient who is more deserving. Over the last 12 years I have a treasure trove of about 3,000 emails full of genealogical information from Harvey about our shared family including photos, birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, land records, grave photos... the list is never ending. It will take me at least a decade to upload all of the data you have shared with me. I will forever be indebted; our family will be forever indebted to you.