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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mixed Feelings and Research In Napa - Part 2

Napa Valley has a pretty "flashy", sometimes "snobby", reputation considering it is a modern famous wine country.  In my life, I have known some wonderfully generous, kind and loving people from Napa, California.  Many of those people are my own family members and their close, dear friends.  But....and I wish that I could say there was not a but........There are people, while well intentioned probably, who are trying to make buck, protect what they have, and keep things "Napa Valley" like while many of the residents just want it to be Napa or keep it as a small town that they call home in the valley.

Corporations moved into Napa a long time ago.  I'm not actually talking about Kaiser Steel which was located along the Napa River where Napa Pipe is now housed.  I am talking about the corporations that popped up in the valley in the 1980s, and a little earlier, who bought up some of the wineries.  These investment groups and corporations changed the face of Napa for the better and for worse.  When money starts flowing, watch out!

I'd say that you can find all kinds of people in Napa, as anywhere in the United States.  Many people are friendly but most just won't go out of their way to help you unless you need to call 911.  You pretty much can bet on this anywhere in California.  People are not rude so much but can be rather passive aggressive.  That is a contrast to some people that I've run into on the East Coast of the United States.  People are aggressive and assertive.  It is part of their culture.  I suppose it's part of our culture in Northern California to be passive aggressive.  I must have missed the class on that one.  Or am I being passive aggressive?

By the way, the most genuinely friendly and helpful place that I've ever been is Ireland.  I did not run into "our" cultural aggressiveness there.  It is not in the people of Ireland's everyday nature to be so rigid and untrusting.

Back to Napa.......In December, our final stop before lunch and then heading on our way out of town, was the Napa Historical Society.  The Professor had stopped by the Goodman Library before our arrival to make sure that we could get in.  Let's just say that they were not as hospitable as you might expect.  My question to them would be, "How many university professors of history do you have come knocking on your door?"  While I get that the end of the year books are important, I'm betting this does not happen often.  Let's also not forget, the staff was "in" and it was during their regular hours of operation.

So, we were not able to go upstairs to library itself but were able to view a folder of information they had pulled from the library.  The poor guy working in the landmarks office had to share the space with us while  we were reviewing the contents of this folder.  Hmm, my expectations were not exceeded here and yet were low to begin with.  Sometimes, it is par for the course.

What they did find for us, was nothing much new to me.  I laughed a bit when a few pages in the folder contained letters to the society from George Capes (my distant relative and McLaughlin researcher).  George, they still have your letters.  The librarian there did not quite hit the mark but came close.  To put it simply, they found another of my family lines.  Even the correspondence to George Capes does not have the best information in it.  They have Flanagan's, Maxwell's, and Duffy's, some of which, I don't know and are not related to me.  I still need to review the information in depth but it is not looking like anything new.  Also, they referenced a Patrick Flanagan who was from County Galway and manufactured wagons and carriages in Livermore.  Um.....Livermore is not near Napa.  County Galway is not near County Louth in Ireland either.  My Patrick didn't manufacture wagons.

I could not actually bring myself to look at the correspondence from New Jersey for someone in search of their Edward Flanagan ancestor.  To be honest, I didn't want to see the response offered by the historical society.  Edward NEVER married or had a family.  The Edward Flanagan in my family line lived his entire life in Napa.

The irony of this visit was that nothing of what my grandfather had provided to the Napa Historical Society was brought down to us.  It seems like the file folder was put together in great haste on a day of extreme inconvenience to them.  The basic information that they offered did not add value.

Just to conclude and clean this up a bit, I had mixed feelings about posting this information about the Napa Historical Society.  I still do.  I almost feel like I reviewed their services and they did not do well.  They also missed the boat.  They want donations of archival and bibliographic materials....or do they?  Between the Professor, myself, and other family members, we probably have information that would overwhelm them.

Oh well, maybe Patrick Flanagan's family line going back to circa 1690 Tubbertoby, Termonfechin, County Louth, Ireland would be "TMI".

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