I just remembered another "roundabout" way of dredging up family history.
From the early 40s through the late 50s, my family had a summer cabin in the Los Trancos Woods area of San Mateo County. That place was a HUGE part of childhood memories. In researching the area, I came across "The Almanac," a website which covers that area, among others. I posted a query, along with an extensive description of LT Woods and its summer, and full time inhabitants, as I remembered it.
Eventually, a Kind Stranger responded. He and his wife had recently purchased a home not that far away from my old family property!
The area had become very trendy and upscale - homes going for unbelievable prices and dominated by a Homeowner's Association. Quite disheartening.
Regardless, Larry A. was SO sweet - he drove around the area, took photos, and sent them to me. While many of the dwellings (including mine) had been razed and replaced with more high-end builds, many other original ones still existed just the way I remembered them! (This was before the invention of Google Maps, so it was most appreciated.)
The icing on the cake? Two years after my original Almanac inquiry, I received an email from a nice young woman in County Cork, Ireland, who turned out to be my 3rd cousin on my Mother's side! Her Aunt had seen my original query (while researching the Hennessy family), and the description of my Quinn/Hennessy parents who owned the cabin, and put two and two together!
Down the road, my Cuz provided family trees for my Grandfather Hennessy's ancestors and even a photo of one of his brothers (who remained in Ireland, and from whom she is descended). My Grandfather was rather unique - he was the only one of the family who emigrated to America.
Moral of the Story: Do not be afraid to veer off the main road and meander down one "rabbit trail" or another. You never know what you will come up with!!