The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 18, 2013

Frankie Meyer: Long-lost relatives can still be found

By Frankie Meyer
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — I recently watched  a television program called "The Locator." The poignant series points out that family history research is far more than a hobby for some people.

The program is hosted by Troy Dunn, a private investigator who has helped people reunite with loved ones for over twenty years. Information about the program is found at

At the site, Dunn gives an important suggestion for people in search of lost loved ones Ñ who may not want to be found. After the address of a person is determined, Dunn suggests that the searcher not barge into the person's life. Instead the loved one should be contacted through a gentle, thoughtful, sensitive phone call.

Through the years, I've met several relatives who have used genealogical techniques to find living relatives. About five years ago, a family history researcher named Jean told me her amazing story.

After her brother and his wife divorced, the wife took the young daughter to another state and broke all contact with the father and his family. For more than 40 years, Jean and her family wondered about the lost loved one.

On a hunch, Jean decided to place an ad in Cappers Weekly. After the niece saw it, she contacted Jean, and they had a joyful reunion.

A second cousin, Mike, flew from California to Missouri in search of his lost relatives. His mother and her seven siblings had been removed from their mother after their father died, and their mother couldn't afford to take care of them. The children were placed in different foster homes and orphanages.

Although 70 years had elapsed since the siblings were separated, Mike went to the birth location listed on his mother's birth certificate and was able to find local families who helped him piece together his family history. He eventually located all of the siblings and held a blessed reunion that helped heal their troubled hearts.

In addition to the methods that these researchers used, another suggestion is to use the site to find the address and telephone number of possible leads. A researcher should also interview all known relatives because some of them might know details that could be helpful.

Search old telephone directories because they might provide helpful addresses. Directories are often found at historical societies, public libraries and genealogy societies.

Also, visit nearby courthouses and search birth, marriage, death, divorce, real estate, tax, and court records for clues. Check the online Social Security Death Index, too. The index tells the area where a person lived when he or she applied for a social security number, and the place where the person was living when he or she died.

For more helpful techniques, go to When the site opens, click on categories. When the next screen opens, click on the category "Finding Living People."   


Suggestions or queries? Contact: Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168 or e-mail