'There's Always a Funny Story'
Allison and Gene Fuehrer
Allison and Gene Fuehrer, of Elizabeth, Colorado, drag their fifth wheel trailer around the country doing genealogical research. In the process they have lots of interesting experiences.
“A couple of summers ago we were outside of Atchison, Kansas, which is on the Missouri River across from St. Joe, Missouri,” recalls Allison, a retired ER nurse. “We had GPS coordinates for a cemetery where his ancestors were buried. So in this little tiny town, we’re driving around and trying to find the cemetery. We walk up to a house because we know we’re getting close, by the GPS. We knock on the door, and a kid, 10 or 12 years old, comes to the door. ‘Hi!’ ‘Do you know where this small cemetery is?’ And the kid says, ‘Oh yeah, it’s on our property. It’s up here on the hill. But our parents aren’t home.’ I said, ‘Well, when are they going to be home?’ ‘Mom’s going to be home at noon.’ I said, ‘Would she mind if we called?’ He said, ‘Sure,’ and he gives us the phone number, and we go back to the RV. A couple hours later we call and tell her who we are and ask, ‘Is it OK if we come over?’ She was like, ‘Oh, sure, come on over and we’ll show you where the cemetery is.’
“So we get over there, and in the meantime the woman has called the sheriff because she’s afraid of who we are. I’m serious! I mean, look at us! But it probably scared the kids. Anyway, so we get there and the cop comes. I’m just saying, there’s always just a funny story! He didn’t do anything to us, and they end up dragging us up the hill to the cemetery. There’s half a dozen gravestones that are still in existence, and they were what we needed.”
Another time the Fuehrers were in Jefferson County, Indiana, which is across the Ohio River from Kentucky. Allison says, “We got chased by people with rifles again, following the GPS coordinates. We’re in the back hollow, believe me. Anyway, there’s always fun stories.”
Some of their best stories take place in Pennsylvania.
“My husband had a premonition to go back to this cemetery because he knew this baby was buried there,” Allison says. “I mean, we were driving away and my husband just suddenly was like, ‘We need to go back to that cemetery. There is a baby buried there.’ And we go back and we find it, but we can’t read the headstone. So we get this handkerchief and we get a bottle of water, and we soak his handkerchief, and we ruin his handkerchief, but we clean off the tombstone and read the writing of the baby buried there.”
Gene recalls, “We stopped at a cemetery in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and we couldn’t find the people we were looking for, for Allison. We went on to a couple other cemeteries, and she was driving. I said, ‘Where are we headed?’ She said, ‘The hotel.’ And I said, ‘No, we need to go back to that cemetery.’ Turns out there were 65,000 graves there, and the sexton happened to be there–he was called unexpectedly back to the cemetery on that Saturday. And we found 13 people that she did not know were there–she thought there was only one or two.”
Was someone helping them?
“Oh yes, definitely,” Gene says.
“More times than not, somebody helps us,” says Allison. “We need help!”
For the Fuehrers, genealogical research is more than a hobby.
“We do this incessantly,” Allison says. “It’s ridiculous. We do it together all of the time. We both have other hobbies–I quilt, I garden, and my husband does photography. We do this together. We’re never gone probably more than two or three weeks at a time, because we do own a home. My husband’s a CPA, and so from January to April 15 he’s very busy. So we travel from about May 1 to the middle of September–we’re out and about. We make circle trips.”
Gene has done genealogy his entire life, she says. “For me it was always kind of out there somewhere. I had collected information and never done anything with it. The more I did it, the more fun it became. So we actually do it professionally. We have a website–familiesfound.com. It’s pretty fun–it’s like a puzzle. It really is an obsession.”