Genealogical Inspiration, by Maureen Taylor

lightbulb.bmpGo ahead. Let’s sound off. I’d like to know how you learned to conduct family history research. Did you take a class, read a book, or follow an online tutorial? As you know there are many opportunities to become a more experienced researcher. Here’s what made a difference in my life:

Family
I began my childhood inquiries into the past by asking questions of the oldest person I knew–my only living grandparent, my Dad’s mother. Armed with a pencil and paper I tried out my interviewing technique. Where were you born? Who were your parents? At one point she sighed and said “Let’s talk about your grandfather’s side of the family instead of mine.” When I persisted she redirected me. I’ve since learned the reasons behind her reticence but it took decades to uncover those family skeletons. My mom always supported my research driving me to town halls and libraries. At some point she stopped being my personal chauffeur and began researching her own family.

Friends and Colleagues
A network of friends and colleagues interested in the same topic create a built-in audience for family history questions. After all, having someone to talk to about your brick wall helps you get through the frustration. If you don’t know anyone in your social group who loves genealogy (gasp!) you’ll find them by attending a local meeting at a historical and genealogical society. While I didn’t know any kids whose hobby was genealogy, I began meeting like-minded folks when I began working after college.

Books
What genealogy book inspired you to look further into your family history? That’s an easy question for me to answer. After a librarian steered me towards Gilbert Doane’s Searching for Your Ancestors I saved my allowance to buy a copy. At eight it was dense reading, but I was persistent and I followed his advice. Over the years there have been other books and even a few online resources that helped teach me more than the basics. Other than Doane’s tome on genealogy I’ve read or used many of the reference books currently in print and a few no longer available new. A personal favorite is Genealogical Research in New England, edited by Ralph J. Crandall. It occupies a spot in my office within reach for any New England research quandaries I encounter. There are newer books and guides, but this slim volume is still valuable.

The great thing about genealogy is that there is always something new to learn, but even older guidebooks can help you understand the records. Building a personal research library is an expensive pursuit so I buy selectively and use my public library’s interlibrary loan program for the rest.

Classes
Even though I’ve been involved in genealogy for decades that doesn’t mean I don’t attend workshops and lectures presented by specialists. Many local historical societies offer classes on family history and a few community adult education programs do the same. If you have a particular need, such as learning a language, then try a college or university. Online classes through the National Institute of Genealogical Studies is one route.

Teleconferences and those with an interactive online component are rapidly gaining in popularity. You can find something to fit your educational needs and your budget. Professional advancement is also within reach if you travel to Samford’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research or attend a Professional Management Conference from the Association of Professional Genealogists (http://www.apgen.org) at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference. Check out the links to other educational venues using Cyndi’s List  and the category “Education.” I believe that learning is lifelong so I continue to study whenever I can.

What About You?
So let’s get back to you. I’m sure that each and every one of you has a personal story to tell. I’ve told you about my life. It’s your turn. Share your thoughts on how you’ve become a genealogist in the Comments section here on the blog.

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Maureen Taylor is The Photo Detective. She was recently profiled in the Wall Street Journal. “Watch and Listen” to her solve cases at www.photodetective.com

69 thoughts on “Genealogical Inspiration, by Maureen Taylor

  1. I volunteer at the Family History Center which is where I learned genealogy 15 years ago. I just kept going there and found a women who was very good and shared all she knew. I am not LDS but they taught me so much I thought I’d give back what they gave me. It is such a pleasure to help people find their family. There are so many microfilms that people overlook, thinking everything is on the internet. I love the internet also, I just returned from Sweden to meet a long lost cousin I found on Genline and seen the family land from the 1600′s. I looked for this family for 10 years! I use all sources; magazine’s, libraries,Ancestry, Roots Web, etc. Helping other people is one of my favorite things though!

  2. I became a genealogist after my girlfriend and I joked about how we must be related. From that we set out to prove it. It was never proven but my husband and I are fifth cousins! I started into the hobby at age 40. I am 50 now and still going strong. I am a third year student at the National Institute of Genealogical Studies going after my American Records Certificate and I am gathering my family documents to put into book form for my six siblings. I do genealogy work on the side and that helps me to learn about resources in areas outside of my natural realm.

  3. I became very interested in genealogy when I began helping my dad prepare his book for publication. When I was growing up, I had heard from my grandmother and great grandmother many of the stories Dad was now using as anecdotes about his boyhood days in the book, and became very interested in learning more about his mother’s side of the family. (The paternal side had already been traced back to 1610, so I spent little time on that side of the family.) However, there were some obvious gaps in the maternal family history in his book, so I took a “tracing your family heritage” course at church in 1994, and soon became “hooked.” I learned to use the Internet for much of my research, and it has been a huge help. Joining Ancestry.com was the best decision I ever made to help me track down the obvious gaps in my dad’s maternal family history. (I later learned that these gaps existed because families became separated and no one had ever talked about why that had happened.) As a former teacher, I soon realized how important history and social studies were in the movement of families around the country and in the reasons families had emigrated from England, Scotland, Holland, Germany, and France in the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th & 19th centuries. Not only that, I wanted to be sure that my children and grandchildren would never have to ask the same questions I had been asking. They may not be interested in my research now, but someday they will be glad I took the time to do it and to gather all of the source documents available to me.

  4. When I was 8 years old I wanted to fill out the 5 generation chart in my Bible. My Dad’s, Mother was happy I wanted to know about the family. She didn’t know much about her family, both of parents were gone & they hadn’t told her much about the family. Grandma shared the little she knew about her late husband, my Grandfather family. The small amout she shared has been a tremendous help. I still have a great deal of research to do. My Mother’s, Mother’s side isn’t willing to share anything. Her Father’s side willingly shares all the information they find. Just think I started researching because some one printed a 5 generation chart in a Bible.

  5. I started my genealogy journey when I was a teenager. At Thankgiving, we would go to my grandmother’s home and, sure enough, every year she would take out the old photographs. I was always amazed by them and kept asking who, where, why, etc. I remember one time my grandfather bringing out a family genealogy, that seemed all too boring, until he said that we were directly related to Roger Williams, but he could never quite get the connection, as the genealogy book ended about 100 years prior to our conversation. As a Rhode Islander, saying you’re related to Roger Williams is like saying you’re related to the queen [in genealogy terms]! So I started my trek by asking my 3 grandparents about their families and what they remember about their childhood. I still have those notes and I’m very glad that I do! All of my grandparents and parents have now passed and I wish that I had asked LOTS more questions. Anyhow, I got the connection to the genealogy book, so my 1st ‘big’ line was to Roger Williams. I am now a member of the Roger Williams Family Association. The genealogy bug has only gotten stronger; once you get that yearning for more information, the puzzle never ends! It’s a great bug to get.

  6. I became interested in Genealogy when years ago my grandmother would talk about her son, my uncle who was lost at sea in World War II and never knew exactly what had happened. That sent something thru me to search and find out so I could bring them information they never knew. Which I eventually did through long hours of researching and sending letters and waiting for letters to come back with info I needed. Those were the days without computers and the waiting was sometimes harder than anything else. Thank God my grandmother got know more than what the government told her and my mother got to know it all. I have been researching ever since. I love it.
    Carlene

  7. There is nothing better for inspiration than the annual, shortly after school has begun, Sunday nite homework crisis of, “Mom, my teacher says we have to show our family, tomorrow”. Our branch of the family is several states (and time zones) away from any close relatives, so I had to dig into my memory and then pick up the telephone. After a few years, I started to take notes and started my own digging, so I would be better prepared……now, my son is out of school and I have many boxes, books, CDs, computer files and subscriptions to document what has since become a hobby, bordering on an obsession. And I love it.

  8. Back in 1976 I acquired the bug which made me search and record
    information I twisted out of the mouths of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. They shared stories, big pictures (with some names on the back)which I copied with my camera and a separate close-up lens. Joining The Marshfield Genealogy Group which was full of hard working men and women who were wonderful at sharing knowledge and support. I also had the good fortune to watch a PBS program that was from Buffalo, NY. As I watched credits roll, I noticed the name Kegler go by. My mother was a WI Kegler so I sent off one of my begging letters to the Buffalo TV station asking for John Kegler. My SASE returned with information and a contection to John’s helpful mother and leads
    to finding out about who came to NY and WI about 1850 and why.
    I was very lucky to find classes offered by Mr. Jim Hanson(or e) of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. I even acquired enough courage to drive into Madison to do research. Those
    were the days before computers.
    As a 2nd grade teacher I learned the basics. Apple’s educator promotion allowed me the fun of having a home computer.
    Eventuly I found LDS, Ancestry, Civil War files and all the other ways of extending the families. It has been fun.
    Thank you ..

  9. Several years ago, a cousin from the West coast found some Civil war letters in his dad’s stuff and wanted to know who had written them. By consulting an old family Bible, I found that the two men were brothers of my great great grandmother from NC who were killed in the war. I did a bit more on line searching and within 30 minutes had found out where they were killed, what companies they were in and a lot more about their family! I was hooked! If it was that easy to find out so much about two previously unkown relatives, I could do a lot more. Today I have over 8000 names in my data base, not all direct lines but I have learned so much about history and the background of people I had heard of all my life but never knew how they related to my family.

  10. Back in 1956 when my husband and I were first married, I began asking my mother-in-law about her family and that of my father-in-law. She gave me the information she knew about the family. Family lore said that two brothers came from Germany to New York, but split up and the other was not heard from again. I vowed at that time to find the other brother.

    Years passed, we raised our children and shortly before I retired I began searching for ancestors with great success. The Internet has been very helpful and I’ve met many cousins and even visited two branches of the family in Germany.

    I did find my husband’s great grandfather who came from Germany but he came to New Orleans; not New York, and not with a brother.

  11. I felt like I had been struck by lightning when diagnosed with breast cancer in 1980. Then my mother told me her sister and her niece had both died from breast cancer. Gee, I wondered, who else in the family has had some form of cancer? And so my search was on.

    The public library had so much information about researching one’s ancestors that I was off and running. I’ve read books, attended a genealogy class sponsored by our technical college, and visited the LDS library. Everywhere I’ve encountered friendly, helpful genealogists and I owe them a debt of gratitude for the knowledge they shared.

    I’ve always enjoyed knitting and am challenged by finding a skein of yarn that is all knotted up and I can spend hours untangling the twisted yarn. Perhaps that background helped in my researching stick-to-it-iviy.

    Anyway, since 1980 I have undergone a bout with a different cancer, and have found 25 relatives on the family tree who have had cancer. But I’m so blessed, I’m healthy again, and I have a much better understanding and love and respect for my ancestors…..and I am still trying to untangle some of those twisted branches on the family tree.

  12. HOW I STARTED GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH
    It was the mid 60′s. A friend told me that there was a “genealogy library” at our county courthouse, and said, “You ought to go down there. You never know what you will find.”
    I was NOT a believer!
    But, one day I went to the courthouse. It’s an older building, with lots of nooks and crannies. I found the “library” on the top floor, crowded into two rooms…one for the microfilm readers, and another for the stacks – and a table.
    The lady in charge ask if she could help me. I replied that I’d “come to trace my family.”
    “Oh, good. What names are you looking for?” she asked.
    “Names?” I repeated blankly. I had not even thought far enough ahead to consider what lines I wanted to research! Finally, after stammering about, I blurted out, “Sloan and Raulerson.”
    “Oh, honey, you’ve come to the right place!”
    She started pulling books off the shelves, and i was soon immersed in more family lore than I’d ever dreamed existed. Stunned, overwhelmed and strangely happy, I was filling in blanks on family sheets and pedigree charts right and left!
    Soon, however, this well of information dried up, and I had to learn how to do some serious research.
    I’ll be forever grateful to the staff of the fledgling “Polk County (Florida) Historical Library.” They went the extra mile.
    Time passed, and the county built a new, larger courthouse.
    Like the county, the library also grew – and grew from the original two rooms in a dark corner of the third floor of the old building. They now have the whole building!
    And me? I’ve learned – mostly by trial and error – over the years. I’ve worked in Family History Libries, taught small, intimate classes, and have had the priviledge of teaching “genealogy and the internet” at the University of Memphis Community College; and Southwest Tennessee Community College.
    My motto is:
    “Genealogy Without Documentation is Mythology.” – unknown

  13. I was adopted as a baby and my records are sealed probably forever or till after I am dead. My husband had an Aunt that recognized that I was interested in doing genealogy on his family so she gave me a copy of the family history as it had been written down. I put it on Family Tree Maker. We have made several trips to Salt Lake City and learned a lot. Now I am using Ancestry.com and even connecting with other members of our large spread out family and exchanging pictures with them. I have made 3 friends thru Ancestry that have helped me with questions I had and I am addicted to this search. We have two marriage certificates comeing from Illinois in the next couple of weeks and they should verify some very important information. Thank you everyone.

  14. I think I was always interested in learning more about my family, growing up in Virginia, because my father knew so *many* relatives–and they all apparently were “cousins!” I was a junior in high school, and I decided to collect as much information as I could, promising myself that there would come a day when I could travel back in time and learn about my ancestors. Whenever Daddy and his brother started talking about their relatives, I took notes, sometimes interrupting with a question such as “Who was his father?” “You mean those people are cousins?” They made it sound as if everyone in the entire state of Virginia–and some in West Virginia–were their cousins.

    My maternal grandmother was full of stories about her family. She had memorized names, dates, and places, and I wrote it all down. Once, when I was interviewing her, she mentioned that my great-great grandfather was in the Civil War, in the 69th New York Volunteers, the “Fighting 69th.” She couldn’t provide any details, so I said, “I think I can contact the National Archives for his records.” Immediately, she exclaimed, “What do you want to go and do that for? Let the dead lie!” She may as well have thrown a gauntlet at my feet. What was she worried about? She must know something that she doesn’t want to reveal. From that point on, I was determined in my pursuit of family information.

    After graduating from college and teaching for a year, I got married, had two children, and our family moved several times. At one point, we spent about seven years living in Minot, North Dakota. We were there in 1976 when Alex Haley’s book was published. My husband gave me the book for Christmas that year, and I read it in less than two days. Like many other people, I was encouraged to get serious about genealogical research. After all, if Alex Haley could do it, I could! (Years later, I met Mr. Haley and he autographed that book for me.)

    It was difficult at that time (1976-77) to find any genealogical “how to” books, and I was lucky to find one by chance, mixed in with a lot of books at a book sale. That book was my guide: “Searching for Your Ancestors” by Gilbert Doane. I practically lived at the library, requesting microfilmed census records through Inter-Library Loan and spending many bleary-eyed hours looking at those records.

    One day, I received a large envelope from my Mother, back in Virginia. The note papers in that envelope were loaded with family information, and I didn’t even recognize that the handwriting was my own! Mother had saved all my notes and kept them in a safe deposit box. She sent newspaper clippings of obituaries and weddings, photographs and unusual family heirlooms.

    The most exciting thing I received, sent by my father, was a copy of a eulogy read at my 3rd great grandfather’s funeral! The eulogy was rescued from being thrown into the garbage by a lady who heard that a local church in Floyd County,Virginia, was “cleaning out” some old papers. She knew practically all the families in the county, and sent the eulogy to my father.

    That piece of paper astonished me. I hadn’t even known my 3rd great grandfather’s name, and here was his biographical information! Instinctively, I knew that every detail had to be researched and proven. Over a period of several years, I learned that some of the information in the eulogy was true–and some was not.

    When I started organizing my information, I had a typewriter, index cards, file drawers, and a subscription to the “Genealogical Helper.” I had sent a query with my subscription request. Before I received my first copy of the magazine, a letter arrived from a cousin in Kentucky. He had received the magazine and read my query. Over the next few years, we shared a great deal of information and tried to solve some of those “brick walls.”

    Sometime during the 1980s I discovered how to find information on the Internet, which was so new then that very few people knew what I was talking about. I was the Information Systems Manager at Trinity University and learned how to send e-mail on the mainframe computer. Back then, each university could connect to the internet only if another unversity granted permission for transmission through its own computer. Of course, that was only the .edu network. If you didn’t know the “gateway” code, you couldn’t send a message to a .com network! Transmission was painfully slow. If I sent a message in the morning, it wouldn’t reach its destination until maybe 15 – 20 hours later.

    Before the surname and geographical lists were adopted by Rootsweb, thousands of family historians were using those lists on the old Maiser Computer at Indiana University. Eventually, a spammer thought he had found a gold mine when he discovered those lists, and his junk e-mail crashed the entire system. Rootsweb rescued the lists, and genealogical correspondence grew at a fast pace. Isn’t it amazing how far we have come in 30 years?

    I am still researching my family and working with other genealogists to break down our “brick walls.” And I think that our ancestors want us to find them. Don’t you feel that they are probably looking over your shoulder while you sit at the computer?

  15. My father used to take me visiting to see his cousins as a child. I was always curious to know things. I recall asking my dad who his grandpa was and if he got to visit with them. I asked him where he went to school too. Interesting that I did that but later proved to be very helpful.
    My mom also talked alot about her mom’s and grandma’s people. I am not sure why she always told me of them or if I just asked her questions. But it was the baby book that we received from the baby shower for our first child that inspired me to do research on the families. It took me almost ten years to fill out the 4 pages that Baby book had. Its the largest one I ever had seen in a Baby Book.
    I have broken down 3 brick walls and just recently a cousin sent me a copy of a letter from a great aunt which helped me further on my father’s line to tear down that brick wall. Now to pursue the appentise jobs that helped men come to the states for working so many years at that appentise job. I had never searched for apprentise job listings in Pennsyvania so this is a new one for me to research.
    I have met up with 7 cousins in my research years so this is really cool to find relatives. One lady was a friend for 20 years and when I was having her husband do some repair work on my computer we discovered that we were cousins.
    So we just never know when we will find relatives accidentally.

  16. Many years ago, my dad gave me a small tintype picture album filled with unknown relatives. It belonged to his grandfather. It had the date 1882 written in it. He knew very little about his own ancestors because his father had died when my dad was very, very young. But his mother had kept the family stories alive for him, and he passed those stories to us. I had to see if they were true or not, and through many years of searching,I have proven many were true. Now I am telling those same stories to my own grandchildren, and I have my research to back them up. Many of the faces in the picture album are still unknown, but I have been able to identify a few. The search continues!

  17. I think I was born with the love of family research in me. I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t trying to copy one of my Grandma’s(my Dad’s Mom)genealogy sheets, or having her tell me stories about the family. I wished I had recorded them better, however. I remember that my Dad took me to Salt Lake City, UT, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Genealogy Library when I was very young(it was much different back then). He would write down names for me and my sister, and go get books from different states where we might find these names. It was so much fun. Some times we would find the names, but they didn’t have the right information to be the right person, but when we found the right name that had the correct information to be a relative, it was very exciting to me, and that started when I was 8 years old, and Dad continued to take us with him well into the teenage years. He wrote letters and got information through them. He found relatives and exchanged information. Dad’s family had alot of genealogists in it and they kept records, so I found that it wasn’t hard to get that information on Grandma’s side. But Grandpa’s wasn’t as easy, and somehow when I was talking to Grandma, the stories always came back to her family. They both had families that had settled in the same area, so alot of the people in town were related to us. My Mom’s family lived in a city next to them, and we met alot of her relatives, and some of them did genealogy as well, but I didn’t get into her line as much as I did Dad’s.

    After I met my husband, I felt that I wasn’t really getting anywhere new with my own families research, and I started gathering my future husband’s information. It was great! Fresh ground. His father had died in a house fire when my husband was only 6, and they had lost track of all his father’s family, plus some half brothters and sisters. What a find! I just loved doing research. I would talk with my mother-in-law about my husband’s father and the family. His grandmother had lived with them for some time and told his Mom stories about their live, which she retold to me. I used some of these stories to track down death/birth/marriage certificates, and eventually we found one living uncle of my husband’s. I talked to him many times and asked questions and wrote down the answers. I also meet other living relatives of his through letters, and received much information from them. We even found his half brothers and sisters, and that was a grand reunion indeed. I have found some other brothers and sisters as well of his, and that was even greater. By using the medical history of his Mother, we were able to get into adoption records that had been sealed. The other children were contacted with this information and they desired to get together, and that was special. We remain close with those who are still living. I have been so blessed to find many relatives who were living who had done a great deal of research through letters and research. I still work almost only on my husband’s lines, but when I realized how well I knew his family, I wanted to know my own that way, too, and so I started to work on both lines again, and realized that some of the information I had copied as a child, had mistakes in it, according to records from I have gotten into. I love census records, and vital records when available, as well as researching other records, like military records, church records, deeds, and other sources. I like to have several sources for each person. I have a lot of names in my files, and it has been alot of fun. I have seven children, and I had to find ways to continue my research during the years I was having them and raising them, and through letters to different states and such, it has been able to continue. I was able to attend lectures at different places for free where available in the area I used to live.

    I think that my Dad would love not having to travel for hours to find the great amount of information that is right here in our own homes, through the internet sources, and they are such a great source. I enjoy using them tremendously. I also volunteer at a Family History Cemter and use the resourses there. I love sharing the information that I find with new family members. I love sharing my knowledge of how to do research with others as well, that’s why I help at the family history library. The work goes on!

  18. I have been doing research on both sides of my family since 1970. I am also writing my Life History from the age of three, and putting pictures in where I can identify the people in the history.

    I started doing research because I had a friend in Georgia doing hers. She started out by drawing pictures of her Grandparents home, at Christmas time. Where the tree was, and identified the room, as if we were sitting there. Very interesting. I didn’t know a thing about where to start..and back in those days, we had to depend on the MAIL BOX to give some of our answers..and it sure was slow..and sometimes, people didn’t care enough to answer the notes sent to them. Thank goodness for Computers. AND

  19. My Mom started the research for our family tree in the Mid 1970′s. She began organizing name and dates of those she knew; Parents, Grandparents,In-Laws. and such.
    After her Mother passed in 1981, Mom aquired Her photos,a small diary, and notes on her siblings. We began wondering who were these people and how are they related? There were names, but no dates or relationships memtioned.
    I became interested in my ancestors in the mid 1980′s. I would help her write letters, send the appropriate cash, and hope for an answer. We hit every brick wall there was to hit. It doesn’t help when one does not have the money to spare, but we tried.
    Many times this work became very flustrating as we had no other family members who were interested. On my Fathers side,(his sisters) no would talk of those who had skeletons, or siblings they had discord with. Of my Mothers family the same brick walls also exsisted. My Grandfather ran away from home at about 10 years old, and would not talk to my Mother of his life at that time. He would not speak of his sister, and no one bothered to tell Mom, that her Grandmother was married 5 times, where she was born, or even where she died. Mom had met her Grandmother once in her lifetime, in about June of 1953, only months before she passed on in October.
    When I was given an old computer, I began serfing the internet and ran across “ancestry.com”. Oh what a great surprise this was… to put in a family name and recieve a hint. Mom and I were excited. Our funds were low at the time and we had to move. So in July of 2007, reconnected to the internet, and now a member of ancestry.com, I have found so many family members! I have done so much research for Mom that, even the photos are now added to the right families.
    The size of Moms family album has increased from a single album, to 4 albums. I have always loved History, and now I enjoy researching my family’s history!! Many thanks to Ancestry!!

  20. In 1947, when I was 14 years old, my mother was interested in joing the DAR. As she wrote on her papers, I, with my NEW ballpoint pen (I had never had one before) wrote down info she had on her family line. I still have that paper….written in both blue and red ink as the pen had a color at each end. I, then started asking aunts on my father’s side to give me names, dates, places and info of their ancestors. Many years passed before I got back into adding to my records, but after joining DAR, I decided to research other lines of both sides of the family. I have enjoyed sharing my information with others as much as I have getting additional info from them.

  21. I learned by trial and error. My brother in the 1980′s started me looking up obits and info for him and I became interested in finding answers. I learned more about history, law, court records and land then I ever did in school and it became more personal. I have learned to record and keep sources on my material. Although some are handed down from family. My only and last contact with the past has died recently, my mother. Now I look at photos and wonder who they are as we never sat with her and got what we could from her. I have learned to dig through different directions to get an answer. That not everything is what it seems. I am sceptical of anything with out a source and question trees of others that are not provided with proof and dates are absent or don’t connect. My mother, grandmother and ggrandmother clipped everything out of the paper so I have boxes of obits and marriages and what have you to sort through and try to find who is related and who is not. I cry alot as I go through them and connect but that is the way it goes. I research for others in my county because I love doing this and finding answers for others. I want people to research for me with the same intensity I do for others. I also would want people to be very careful with what they put on the net as some are connecting without checking.

  22. At 16 I had only lived in Utah for a few months, I traveled with a friend and her mothter to Salt Lake City to do some shopping for school clothes. We stayed at the friends grandmothers home over night. On entering the home I was attracted to a large sheet of paper on the living room wall. Like a magnet I went straight to it. It was a pedigree chart, very large and every line filled, no blanks. This lady got me started and its a good thing, as I was later to become her grand-daughter in law.
    This was in 1966 and I am still doing research. Actually, I am now building and managing our local Archives. It was because of her that I am doing my dream job, collecting, scaning and preserving the history of the people and events of our small and remote town.
    Thank you Grandma Nelson. She has been gone from us quite a few years but I still thank her for getting me started. With the support of my parents and family, thanks are also given as they continue to help we with my research.

  23. 25 years ago my daughter had to do a project in school to go back at least 3 generations in our family. I didn’t have all the answers to help her and started asking my parents about their grandparents. We finished the project for my daughter but I wanted to know more – and who the 4th, 5th and 6th generations were – it eventually snowballed and I was hooked.
    I have written two books since, my maiden name NICHOLS, my married name VARDY and helped with my mother’s maiden name, BALTZER. I’ve trudged through many a graveyard, written many letters to cousins, visited many archives and met many wonderful people besides helping many others. Then I learned the computer and how it could organize my data for me, then I discovered the internet and the connections there……

  24. As a child, I found it rather boring when my grandma would start telling stories about the olden days and talk about all her distant relatives that I had never met. Then one day when I was about 12, it hit me like a lightening bolt that these were MY relatives too and I started paying attention. I collected information from her, drew my own descendant charts and family trees, and expanded my interviews to all my elderly relatives. Not everyone appreciated my interest and all my questions, but some of them welcomed the chance to talk about their families and share their memories. This was 40 years ago, so I learned to do genealogy the old-fashioned way, searcing through records in court houses, reading census films by the hour, and calling total strangers on the phone who shared my last name. Of course, now with the Internet and do many databases some of the methods have changed, but it is still like a giant treasure hunt to me and I love gathering clues and solving the mystery of who my ancestors were.

  25. I am the youngest child in my family, by several years. My mother was the only child of her mother, born when her mother was past 50, and grandmother was the youngest of twelve children. So, growing up, Mother had playmates who were the children of her first cousins.

    When I was about 10, Mother’s aunt visited us for several weeks. She and Mother spent a lot of time sorting out grandmother’s family, with old photographs, etc. as well and Aunt Olive’s memory. “Little pitcher” had big ears!

    After WWII Mother’s family began having reunions, and Mother took on the job of trying to locate as many of her grandparents’ decendants as possible. By then I was out of high school and working in an office. Together we made a multi-panel wall sized decendancy chart, with names typed on gummed paper and pinned to the chart until everything was in place. So I was thoroughly exposed.

    When I married, I learned that my husband’s family had done a lot of intermarrying. Thank goodness I had some idea of how to put them down! And I had access to the excellent records at the Denver Public Library.

    Now I keep looking for that elusive person in seven different lines!

  26. Twenty years ago my son got engaged. I thought that a nice gift for his fiance would be a well-lettered and framed ancestor chart. I made a few phone calls to our parents for the pertainent information and thought I would be done over the weekend. Ha! I had no idea that genealogy would be like the first bite of peanuts.

    Twenty years later, I am overflowing with information, notebooks, CDs, files within files within files on my computer. I am beginning to get the stories of the various lines written — not a moment too soon.

    I never got the chart made, but that son’s children asked a few simple questions about our origins and I produced a huge chart for them to study. I hope some of the grandchildren get “infected” with my passion.

  27. When I was a child, my family attended what were called the Crockett-Rarick family reunions in Lansing, Michigan. I never thought too much about them, but as a grew older I heard a rumor that we might be related to Davy Crockett. Again, I mostly ignored that enticing bit of information, but as an adult I began to wonder about it. A friend who was and is an active genealogist got me to exploration of the rumor about the Crocketts. I learned that my great-grandmother, Addie Rarick had a sister and a brother who married a brother and sister by the name of Crockett. I never was able to prove a connection to Davy, but by the time I disproved the rumor, I was hooked, and thirty years later I’m still at it.

  28. I started after a reunion of the family. One of my dads first cousins was a volunteer at a Family History Center in Arizona, and she sent some group sheets of the family and said to send a blank one to every one attending the reunion. We got back 350 group sheets, many were duplicates from other family members, but that started my interest in genealogy. Soon after that our community college had a beginning genealogy class and so my sister and I signed up. I spent a lot of time at the library, the family history center and also online at a wonderful genealogy bulletin board on Prodigy.

  29. My great aunt, Euada Kline Rohme, moved in with us after her husband died when I was five. She had no children, and her only sibling – my paternal grandfather – had died when my father was ten, so his children were her only family. She was concerned that nobody would remember her brother George, because my father was the oldest of his four children, so she would often tell us about him. As a child, it was difficult to make a connection to a grandfather I’d never known.

    My parents had put most of her furniture in the attic when she moved in with us, and I loved going up there with her to look at it. She would tell me who purchased each item, explain how it had passed through the family to her, and tell me how I was related to the people we were discussing. These ancestors became real people to me when I could touch furniture, books, and other items that belonged to them.

    When I was twelve, my parents bought a new home and didn’t want to keep “all that old stuff in the attic.” Though they didn’t realize it, my great aunt had overheard their conversation. I saw her crying in her room and asked what was wrong. I told her that if I had a house of my own that would be the only furniture I would want – I would never keep my relatives in the attic! She started smiling, and when we went downstairs, she informed my parents that she’d just given all her furniture to me. Not only did this save her furniture, china, and crystal, but now I have some wonderful stories about all these family heirlooms I inherited.

    I’m glad that she encouraged me to write down these stories so I’d have them after she was gone. That’s when I started researching and recording my family history. My great aunt died in 1983, and I’ve been researching for forty years now.

  30. I first became interested in Genealogy back in the pre-computer days, in the early 70’s, when my wife’s great-aunt died. A group of papers from her collection was passed around the family, including some original correspondence between her father and the writer of the Wyckoff family genealogy dating back to the 1890′s. There was enough information in the letters for me to make a big family tree chart on a large sheet of shelf paper. I was hooked!

    The best book I ever read was Val Greenwood’s “The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.” The book taught me how to organize my material into research calendars, correspondence calendars, and footnoted time lines for each person with references back to them. Back in the pre-computer days I filled at least 15 notebooks with square graph-lined paper.

    My other inspiration was a second cousin of my grandfather’s who was doing a genealogy of her side of the family. She had written my grandfather and tried to get information on our branch many times, to no avail, as we were never much at letter writing. But she caught me at just the right time, and we corresponded off and on for seven years. She had moved from Ohio back to her home town of Coulterville, Illinois, and had researched her branch of the family completely. When she learned of my interest, she traced my relatives in Coulterville, unrelated to her, just to help me. I read with amazement as she wrote of her visits to the court house, land records, will boxes, and letters to relatives, and led me to about 1000 people for my family tree. She is now gone and her original research has disappeared, but I still have her letters. They remain a treasure and I still refer back to my 12 “letters from Cousin Dorothy.”

    I took about a 20-year break from genealogy while raising my brood of kids, and re-entered after the computer age was in full swing. I have slowly transferred most of my work from the old days onto the computer, and adapted the old research and correspondence calendars to the computer age, but the old principles still serve me well. Thanks, Val and Dorothy!

  31. My family has always been interested in family history. and stories were told of grandparents and great grand parents. My great-grandmother from Denmark did a lot of her Danish ancestry in the 1930′s. There were several books around the house on family Genealogy, Roe’s Dowd’s and local histories of the area.
    When I was working for the Nebraska State Historical Society they had a large collection of New England Material and my lunch hours were taken up with checking on my early New England Jones’s and Roe’s never had much luck with the Griffins or Rhodes. Then I became interested in Missouri River steamboats and their personnel. Finding I had access to a few thousand names I started to post notices that I would do look up on river Families. I now have data files indexes and experience on many rivers and references to at least 100,000 names. Week days are devoted to the river and Sundays to my Family. I have fun when I find a name in a river history I am working on like last week I was working on the USS Bombshell a Civil war gunboat. She was re-captured by the North in a battle and one of the boats was in command of Francis Asbury Roe. I quick look at my Roe’s found a Francis Asbury Roe but the wrong dates. I then traced Admiral Francis back 5-6 generations and his ancestor, David, seems to be a brother of My John Roe of Brookhaven Such things are fun.

  32. My Mother always had this large cardboard box of family photos and about 10 years ago I started looking thru them. I was only interested in the ones of people I knew. In 1998 she kept after me to take what I wanted of the pictures but I still wasn’t interested in a lot of them. A year later I started asking about the people I didn’t know and she would give me names and where they fit into the family – I was hooked. Some she couldn’t remember who they were but there were nicknames and that was enough to eventually tie them in. My father passed away in 2000 before I was able to go back much further in his family since his father died when he was a baby and his mother re-married so he didn’t know a lot about his family. My husband got interested and wanted me to research his family so now I am really hooked. I have read books, attended classes, joined the local genealogical society and am now the secretary of that organization. It is wonderful to be able to talk to others who are as hooked as I am. The really funny thing it that I hated history in school! Now that our families are tied to it I like it. My mother developed Alzheimer’s disease and was eventually to the point she couldn’t remember some of the people and then passed away in April of this year. She was able to enjoy what I was able to find and loved to read what I shared with her until about 2005. I still have some unidentified pictures but hopefully will eventually put names with them. Doing this research helps keep both of my parents close to me.

  33. My Uncle Fred wrote a family history of his surname and several spouse lines in 1950 and published about 20 copies to his siblings and children. He compiled an addendum in 1960 to add to the family history story. When I read my father’s copy in 1987 after my father died, I thought I would like to update the exquisite work my uncle had compiled. So I found “Family Origns” by Parsons Technology a reasonable platform to put the database on and I continue with RootsMagic today. I read some of their books on how to do it and subscribed to Ancestry, the magazine and read all their helpful hints. I subscribed to Rootsweb and found that very useful and I now subscribe to Ancestry’s database for on-line research of many databases. It continues to be fun to do and I publish several lines each year to the appropiate families that can use this heritage.

  34. I was in the fourth grade in 1954. The teacher assigned each student the task of reporting on the nationality of their surname. Unfortunately no one in my family had a clue. I was the only one in the class that could not answer the question. From this time forward I had a desire to know my roots.

    Through out my teen years many questions were asked of the family elders. I started keeping notes and came up with a family tree going back only two generations. This was my introduction to the brick wall.

    Two years before retiring in 1999 research efforts were renewed after my father had came in contact with a distant cousin involved in the family research. This cousin provided bits and pieces of information going back five generations.

    After retirement genealogy became a full time hobby. Thanks to the internet several more family members involved in research have been found. Retirement has permitted to travel to the area the family migrated from offering new clues that hopefully will lead to additional generations being found. Today my surname Genealogy Report is 170 pages.

    It took more than 50 years to determine the nationality of my surname. Thanks to the 1880 census I learned that my 4th great-grandfather was born in Germany.

  35. I began about age twenty-five, writing down only names and dates. How I wish someone had written down all my father-in-law’s stories!
    Roy Howard, Chattanooga TN

  36. My father excitedly told me of his research efforts, one spring day in 1984, locating a cousin he never knew existed before that moment. I was thrilled to witness his elation, especially after so many months of suffering from pancreatic cancer. He would die from complications of that dreaded disease just a few months later. A few weeks before he died I made a promise that I would carry on his research. When my father died his only sister received all his family research.

    Not, yet, twenty-eight years of age and married with two children (we lost our third child, Joseph Henry, during delivery), I felt obligated and committed to the essential tasks of properly providing for my immediate family; regular, weekly visits with my surviving grandparents; I opened a business; and I volunteered thousands of hours to my local community and church. The promise to my dad would have to wait.

    The children reached their teenage years; my business interests blossomed; and I was honored with several community awards for all the tireless, volunteer ethic to benefit others. I average only 2-4 hours of sleep, nightly, so, I was able to accomplish a number of things on my list. However, the promise to my dad would have to wait for another day.

    My surviving grandfather died and my surviving grandmother was having difficulties with her memory, as well as significant issues with incontinence. Regardless, we gladly accepted the responsibility and housed, fed, bathed, and cared for my only surviving grandmother. She would be with us for more than three years, and personal vacations took a back burner. My grandmother’s personal needs were more important, and my wife and three children enjoyed this wonderful experience. However, my dad’s research would have to wait for another day.

    About six months before my grandmother’s death and more than twenty years after the death of my father, my grandmother insisted that she move in with her daughter. Initially, we thought that we said or did something wrong, and yet, we could not understand the reason(s), ‘Why?’ Naturally, members of our family missed my grandmother, dearly. There existed an ‘empty’ feeling in our home, so, I made it a point to cheer everyone up with a few vacations to Maine, NH, and NY state. My dad’s family research would just have to wait.

    The stay with her daughter lasted a mere six weeks, and my grandmother demanded that she, “Be brought back to Tom & Linda’s home in Barre, VT.” My grandmother moved the forty-five miles to be next to her grandson, wife, and children. My children were THRILLED to be able to visit with ‘Great-grandma Boyce’, once again, and my youngest (Katie) bicycled to her apartment, each and every day, to share some candy with her grandmother and three of her friends. It seemed like old times, once again, as each and every member enjoyed whatever moments we were able to invest with my grandmother.

    And, then, with a sparkle in her eye she provided my wife, Linda, with a small box and a small suitcase she brought back with her from her daughter’s home. Inside was some of the research my father, her son, conducted before he died. She asked my wife, ‘To promise not to say anything to me until I slowed down.’ Apparently, she thought my schedule was much too busy. The research would just have to wait. ‘Grandma, you little devil,’ my wife commented. You moved away just so you could retrieve these documents, didn’t you?’

    ‘I got all that I could, Honey, because four large boxes were just thrown away after the auction,’ said my grandmother. ‘I felt so sick that I ever gave her those papers in the first place. Tom should have them, but he is too busy, now, to even think of picking up where Ed left off.’

    My grandmother died 15 November 2001, just a few months after that horrible attack on the Trade Towers and the Pentagon. We dearly missed her, and my son immediately joined the military.

    Four more years just seemed to fly me by, it seemed, and I found that I didn’t wish to be one of the largest in my business, any longer. Besides, the children were pretty much grown, and my eldest daughter married a recent graduate from the Academy. As a 2nd-LT, he would soon be overseas on more than one tour, and my son just returned from his second tour. I sold my business, and I found good jobs for all forty-eight employees. Apparently, my wife saw that I was antsy, and she provided me with a gift which changed my life, forever. It was Christmas 2005, and as I opened the Family Tree Maker 2006 Edition, she commented, ‘It is time to keep that promise to your father.’

    I opened the package and registered same around New Years. I didn’t do a thing with the family research until March, when, during another blizzard, I had nothing else to do. My wife kindly reminded me of my father’s promise.

    After placing my first, middle, and last name in the software package, I found I needed a tutorial. So, I took the tutorial found within the software, and proceeded to add my birth and marriage information. I had no problem remembering my wife and children’s information, but I was quite surprised to learn that I had forgotten the exact dates of my siblings, as more importantly, of my own parents and grandparents. Sheesh.

    So, I called my mother and she was so HAPPY to hear from me. ‘Mom, I just saw you last weekend,’ I said. She replied, ‘I know! But, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU HAVE CALLED ME IN AGES!’ Ouch. Lesson learned.

    Within a few weeks I built my ‘tree’ to include a mere 40-odd names. Many without details, and all without proper sourcing. I was, after all, a rookie researcher who wished he had the previous work of his father as a template to follow, but I was happy to find more and more and more and more details about my family.

    I contacted my cousins, my uncles, my aunts, and my nieces and nephews. The family tree grew tremendously over the next week. Within a month I had more than a thousand names, many without proper birth, marriage, or death dates, but I had a template.

    Confused, I stopped researching until I memorized as many family members as possible. Many, of whom, I never knew existed. A month later, sometime in April 2006, an upgrade of my membership with ancestry.com was necessary. I just HAD to have full access to all available records. My research hours were conducted, each and every night, between 10 PM and 3 AM for the next two months. By then, I became aware of the importance of sourcing. Oh, my word, ‘I am an idiot,’ I said to myself, ‘For neglecting the importance of recording my source material.’

    So, I started all over, again, only this time I would make an effort to visit with each of my known cousins. That would take up each and every weekend for the next year and a half. A visit with a cousin is an everyday moment, now, and I hear from scores of cousins on a daily basis through email. I have flown from the east coast to the west coast (Canada and the US), as well as south to Virginia. All, in my efforts to meet with long lost cousins I never knew existed.

    My goal changed from family research to the hopeful, REUNIFICATION of all family members whom, for whatever reasons, had simply drifted apart throughout the decades.

    I began an on-line tree, The Boyce Family Tree, using ancestry.com as my web host. They offered me many of the options I felt I needed to achieve my goal of REUNIFICATION. Not only would my family members, throughout the world, have FREE access to my efforts on a 24/7 basis, but they all would be able to add their own content, as well as photos of themselves in our collective efforts to reunite, once again.

    I mention ‘OUR’ collective efforts, because when one thinks about it, one could not POSSIBLY locate, identify, record, and share the more than 6,100 family members I have found since I began more than a year ago.

    I have met with hundreds of cousins, each with their own delightful number of personal stories, and each with a distinct trait of common decency and love.

    My tree is public, and all my family members whom ask for entry to our family tree are granted full access as ‘Editors.’ The web host has improved the site, on many levels. I am very happy with their high levels of service and commitment to improve those areas which need addressing.

    My wife surprised me with a small box and a small suitcase, Christmas 2006, and as I opened the contents my eyes flooded with emotion. I was able to view, for the very first time, several historical photos and tree charts on a number of family lines my father, two of our cousins, and an old typewriter saved for future generations. I was absolutely stunned as to the high level of research efforts he was able to complete WITHOUT the use of a computer. He saved scores of letters between his cousins and himself, information which I could use within the tree I was building, on-line.

    As I write this letter I am happy to say that we are blessed to share this past Thanksgiving 2007 with a couple of cousins. Both are in their eighties, and both are the last of their line of Boyces. We have shared stories and dreams, laughed, and enjoyed some excellent meals. Together, for more than a week.

    As I complete these last few lines, I am listening to the brother and sister energetically renew their sense of passion for life, once again, and both readily agreed to spend Christmas with us, as well. Again, we are so blessed.

    Promises kept.

    An endless sea of opportunity awaits.

    There is love and peace and serenity amongst all the turmoil.

    Just find and commit oneself to a dozen cousins, and you’ll begin to see what I mean.

    Happy Holidays to all,

    Tom Boyce
    Barre, VT

  37. Following the death of my father I innocently asked my grandmother if my father had any aunts or uncles on his side of the family. I was well aware of my mother’s side. I wrote down what she said. About 20 years later during the ‘Roots’ saga my son came home with the inquiry about my ‘roots’, I have been ‘digging’ ever since. There was a time that I was ‘digging blindly’ until I met a distance cousin on the internet who guided me to another cousin and I was ‘off and running’.
    The internet has helped a lot with visits to places concerned with my great-grandfather. It has been a successful ‘run’. Pant, pant, pant.

  38. I listened to my parents stories of their youths as a child and especially to my mother’s stories who came from her mother, a German immigrant from Kiev, Russia in 1892. As I grew older, my paternal grandmother showed me her wedding album and identified the pictures; she told me to write down the names as I would forget them. I, being the all-knowing teenager, did not and have forever regretted it since I now can name only a couple of the pictures and tintypes.

    Fast forward to the 1990s when my husband & I neared retirement; our children began bugging us to put together a family tree which to them meant just listing the names and dates. I began collecting information from various family members and then started research with the fledging ancestry.com online and Clayton Library in Houston, TX.

    At the Library I found information on my paternal grandmother’s family in Ohio, took a chance and made some “cold” calls to older family members who put me in touch with a couple of distant cousins in Ohio who were also working on family lines. That has been very rewarding. We also made a couple of trips to Ohio over the years which yielded more information and I met more distant family and saw where my father was born.

    My husband’s family was fractured as a child due to divorce and he did not know his father’s family. Through persistent research and a “cold call” he found a living aunt & uncle and 3 cousins who were able to supply him with pictures and stories of his father. He now has extended family. Very rewarding!

    Through my persistent research into my father’s family, I found that a 2nd cousin in my home town had a family Bible from my Great Grandmother which contained 2 letters in German from the mid-1800s (she didn’t know they were in there) and I recently turned some pages and discovered 2 different locks of hair tied in tiny ribbon bows which I think may have come from 2 babies she lost by age 2. She recently gave me this Bible since I completed her ancestry line and she is 87 years old.

    I recently was able to buy a very rare yearbook on e-Bay that contained my father’s name and picture when he attended a Civilian Military Training Camp at Ft. Snelling, Wisconsin. I had tried for over 6 years to learn something about that camp as I only had his dogtags with his name and date of 1926. There was no usable information available online — I even contacted Ft. Snelling to no avail. I think most of those records had been archived or destroyed. I was very lucky to get the book. So my advice is NEVER give up in a search.

    A University Professor went to Germany/Kiev,Russia and surrounding areas about 5 or 6 years ago and researched my mother’s family and posted all the info online for the tons of descendants — included were stories of the lifestyles before moving to America. Invaluable!

    My husband & I have had incredible good fortune finding the information we have and we have also given information for others — that is what genealogists do — they swap information and make friends in the process. We have been at this 9 years and going strong.

  39. My quest for family history began with my English teacher, Barbara Ledbetter who assigned a “family history” theme. I interviewed my grandfather and borrowed a great-aunt’s notebook where she kept old letters and notes. 1962. My grandfather went on to write a book on his life, my great-aunt’s daughter wrote a book on her life and family. I have been dabbling in my own genealogy off and on since then. While the children were growing up I had little time for it. I got serious when I subscribed to ancestry.com. The information there has been wonderful as well as frustrating, that is, the lack of information sometimes. Our Bryan family has been very well researched, but I’m still working on other lines, as well as my husband’s family. There just isn’t enough time in a day to get everything done and genealogy, too! And the piles of paper! I recently took my printer to a cousin’s house and used a REAM of paper, copying information that her mother had gathered.

  40. Like Maureen, I became hooked on genealogy early. I was a bored 12 year old visiting my grandmother and found a book in her bookcase on the McComb family (grandmother’s maiden name). That got me started asking questions, though I regret not many of my grandmother. She gave me the book before she died. During the next 10 or 12 years I asked questions regarding various branches of the family and wrote notes in a spiral notebook. Then I started working, married and raised a daughter which didn’t leave much time for genealogy. With daughter in college and a computer at my disposal, I began doing searches and found a wealth of information, much of which I have been able to substantiate. I agree with continuing ones education and frequently take classes provided by the local genealogy library, LDS church, and the state genealogical society. I learn something new each time. I also volunteer at the local genealogy library and have learned much doing that. I’ve recently taken my first real field trip to the area where my McComb great grandparents lived in the 1850 and 1860s. It produced much more than I expected. I can hardly wait for another trip. Genealogy has been wonderfully rewarding for me. I’ve learned a great deal about my family and met many cousins who I might never have known.

  41. I had been looking for my brother who had disapeared after the Vietnam War. I thought he was named for my paternal grandfather who was Thomas Dalton Reed. I had mentioned to my cousin that I couldn’t find my grandfather either. She said that his name wasn’t Tom, it was Dalton. I then searched for Dalton Reed and kaboom there he was. I was hooked. I finally found my brother, living in New Mexico. My sister and I flew down to see him. It was a very happy reunion. It had been 30 yrs. I bought one book “Your guide to the Federal Census. Found rootsweb and some cousins and I was off and running. It’s been a thrill ever since. I just wish I was a time traveler, and could meet them all.

  42. How the research started:

    “The van Romondt Family Tree, West Indian Branch Research Project” started with the initiative of Malaki Zuleika Croes living on the island of Aruba, a descendant of the van Romondt (VR) Family of the West Indian Branch, Sint Maarten N.A. who since the age of 14 was very much interested in her family history. Both of her grandparents are descendants of the VR-family of the West Indian Branch and they were fortunate to have known the VR of their time. Her grandparents often told her stories of the life in Sint Maarten, N.A. and the relationships with their father (John Granville VR) and grandfather (Otto Lionel VR). Little by Little Malaki started collecting information( taking to people, books, newspaper, archives, pictures, notes etc.) on her family history and when she finished putting her direct branch together she said: “okay, we have our connection but this is just one leaf out of the whole tree, so the research is not complete.

    Her opinion was that she wants the complete tree filled with history, facts, documents, literature, pictures and any other information regarding the family and this is how she followed her dream to continue researching “the van Romondt Family of the West Indian Branch and to connect all ancestors & descendants to each other and to achieve the most amazing Caribbean FAMILY TREE in the world”.

    As the journey started several people told Malaki and/or are still telling her up to this day “why do you want to do this looking back at historical facts of the family and that you will not achieve this as it is too much work”. Just leave everyone do their own thing”. But all of this hasn’t stop Malaki (Malachi in the bible) to continue what she says: “when I close my eyes I see it and it is so amazing, can you believe we are putting together a family tree of a West Indian Branch and we are talking of thousands of people!”



    She says sometimes “I do get disappointed by certain comments or reactions but when I look at those who believe in the VR-Family Tree Research Project I get more and more motivation and determination to continue the work”. 

The research and all its components is a dedication to “ALL DESCENDANTS OF THE VAN ROMONDT FAMILY, WEST INDIAN BRANCH SINT MAARTEN N.A.” and together we are going to achieve this dream! 



    So far many (living)descendants have been found and we are still searching for many branches. Everyone is part of this project and many descendants and contacts all over the world have already contributed to the research by providing family information, collections, pictures, documents etc.



    Knowing your roots is empowering and knowing them absolutely gives one a sense of confidence. Her motto is: “let us learn from the past and look with a positive mind & heart to the future and let us the West Indian Branch unite!

    Vision and Mission:
    The mission of the research is to provide a resource for all of us which can connect all family trees together, share information, learn and increase what we know and to have as many information possible (certificates, documents, pictures, literature, publications, clippings, and any other information that can contribute) on the ancestors and descendants of Diederik Johannes van Romondt & Ann Hassell, the VR-family of the West Indian Branch, Sint Maarten N.A.



    Malaki Zuleika Croes (Aruba)

  43. I had always been interested in family history. My mother told lots of family stories; my father’s family had reunions and kept hand written genealogies and one line even had one of those published family history books that were popular around 1900. I tried to get my mother-in-law to tell me about her family history and to identify the people in her mother’s photograph album but she had, or gave out, little information.

    Then when we got our first home computer (1999, I think. We were kind of slow.) the home page of our internet server had a featured site called “Dave’s Root Cellar” and I clicked on it. Somehow I got to a surname message board for one of my family names and there was a posting by a woman who had the same great-great-grandparents I did! I was so excited I must have talked about my interest in genealogy at work because the next thing I knew a co-worker told me about a newspaper article announcing a basic genealogy class offered at a local church. I went and have been on the great ancestor hunt ever since.

  44. When I retired I was looking for something to do. My husband knew almost nothing about his family – just a few things his mother said. So I started to research them. I read a few things and subscribed to the Ancestry.com newsletter where I learned a lot. I then subscribed to Ancestry and bought their Family Tree. Also became a member of the Historical Society in the local town where most of his relations lived. Now he says I have become obsessed but now he knows where he came from! I’ve also added some of my side of the family. My father was an orphan and had no close relatives, but I’ve found a few of them.

  45. I was adopted in Kansas the 1950s, when I was nine months old. The adoption was semi-successful. My adoptive parents are wonderful. They were a hard working, loving couple. But we were tempermentally mis-matched. I felt like a nice German Shepherd puppy taken in by a nice family of ducks! My every natural reaction appeared to cause them panic.
    When I was 21 I acquired a copy of my original birth certificate from the State of Kansas. I searched for my birth mother and located her. I had no romantic notions that my reunion with her would be idyllic. One of my motives was that I had a great feeling of grief that she had endured a painful experience in bringing a child into the world, and being separated from that child.
    Getting to know her was a far more delightful experience than I had hoped. Her personality, behavior and speech patterns were all similar to my own. I was dismayed to discover that our methods of arguing were identical, and highly unusual. Both of us reverted to high sarcasm & laughter when angry.
    My mother was unwilling to provide any information about her family that would lead me to have a conversation with any of them. Rather than ask that I honor her privacy, she simply told me all of her family stories, having thoroughly stirred all of the characters. So uncle Jack was living in Colorado, and uncle Dan was dead. In fact, the opposite was true. The Quinn’s came from Ireland, and the Days came from Kentucky. True. The Ralston’s gave their babies away and the Schofields kept theirs. A reversal of fact.
    As it became clear that she was a charming, captivating liar I plunged into genealogical research to uncover her family’s past. It was like an exercise in forensic psychology. As such, it was highly successful, informative, and a spendid entry into an exploration of American history.
    In the 1980s I traveled to Ireland, to the birthplace of one of my Irish great-granfathers. He had a friend from the same town who lived near him in Kansas. Great grandfather always claimed that his friend, Tom Cassity, was the grandest liar of all Ireland. While in the town I asked the locals if they knew of the Cassity family. The said, “Sure, now, they live on Liar’s Hill!” The locals went on to tell that Lying was a local sport.
    There were multiple people in the town who quoted Emily Dickinson to me! “Tell the truth, but tell it slant!” What utter confounding whimsy!!!!!!!
    An additional motivator was my daughter’s hereditary illness of Familial Mediterranean Fever. It is a disease that is not uncommon in American’s with a Melungeon background. And I discovered two separate family lines with Melungeon roots who were unknown to each other.
    My family’s genealogy has been my own whimsical, magical romp through the Looking Glass, or my own Adventures in Wonderland!
    It has been a barrel of laughs and a bucket of tears. Genealogy has taught me to be compassionate, generous, tolerant, and persistent. It has brought me into contact with delightful and kind people. It has made my life rich, indeed.
    Sandi Rose,
    Kansas City, Missouri

  46. I was a history buff as a child – even had a subscription to the original Landmark books about American history – I think one arrived every month, and I devoured them. We had some family papers including a journal my great-great grandfather kept when he went around the Horn to the Gold Rush in 1849, and I intended to transcribe that, but still haven’t gotten around to it. We also had a portrait of his daughter, who was one of Susan B. Anthony’s “girls,” and plenty of letters from SBA.
    But what got me started on genealogy was my grandfather’s forced retirement. My mother decided he needed a hobby, so she tried to get him interested in tracing his family history. He could have cared less, but my mother, my aunt, and I got bitten by the bug. My mother died a few years ago, but my 80-year old aunt and I are still at it. We’re trying to trace our mitochondrial line and just got another lead from a Google search. What a difference from when the only way to find out anything was to travel from church to cemetery to county seat to library!
    When we started out, I thought I knew more than I did about family history, being a librarian. I met Alex Haley at my aunt’s house in Rome, NY, and he told me about his search for his roots. I wasn’t very encouraging, I’m afraid. But several years later I sat down to read the Reader’s Digest and started yelling, “He found them!” My husband came running to find out what the heck I was talking about. I was as excited as if they had been my own ancestors.
    I never took a genealogy course, but I’ve done lots of reading and followed some tutorials. I started out with a huge notebook, then graduated to Personal Ancestral File, Family Tree Maker, then Generations – which was THE best – and now FTM 2008. I love the map feature so I can see where all my families came from. I even found my great-grandmother’s house in Philadelphia which she built for her family and as a gathering place for women working for women’s suffrage.
    For me, the great thing about genealogy is that it’s not only interesting to see who my ancestors were, but it’s a bridge to history and culture and geography and different cuisines and just about any subject I’m interested in. And it gives me, my aunt and my cousins a passion in common.

  47. In 2001, my cousins and I undertook the first family reunion in over 35 years! We had it at a park, in the outdoor shelter. It was a warm and windy day. The genealogists had gathered at picnic tables in one corner of the pavillion to share family history. When the wind came up, papers went flying everywhere! We gathered them up as best we could. At this time I had no interest in family history. After everyone left, we were cleaning up and I found a cache of papers that had blown away and rested in the corner of the pavillion. Knowing someone would be missing them, I took them home with me. A distant cousin called later in the week asking if I’d found some genealogy papers she was missing from the reunion. In packing them up for mailing, I looked them over. My parents name were on one of the pages and I followed it down to myself and my children, then up to grandparents and so on. It was so fascinating that I wanted to learn more. By chance there was a genealogy convention in a nearby city a few weeks later and I went and got loaded up with everything to get me started being a genealogy “nut”! I’ve been hooked every since.

  48. 35. I grew up in a small town and regularly visited my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of whom lived nearby. I also was taken to family reunions, maternal side. My interest in genealogy began long before I knew what to call it. As a youngster, I just wanted to know where I came from, going way back, and could not seem to get answers. Yes, I knew my grandparents, but I wanted to know where they came from, and where theirs came from, and so on. Finally, my exasperated mother took me to visit an elderly great uncle who had the “where did I come from” fever, same as me, and he was delighted to talk about the family and to share all that he knew. Later on, as time permitted, I read “how-to” books, talked and wrote letters to other relatives, kept everything, and kept notes as I went along (no computers then), saving it for when I would have time to learn how to do it! Now, about sixty years later after at least that many cemeteries, court houses, libraries, and other places visited, and with a home and computer overflowing with documents and information, I have learned a lot, and still have the fever and plenty of gaps to fill. Ancestry.com has been a wonderful resource to access from home, and for that I am thankful since responsibilities limit travel time. Without that early passion (are we born with it?), I would have missed the chance to get a head start finding out about my family through older relatives. The problem I am dealing with now is how to make the time to get what I have fully organized to pass on since I enjoy “searching” more than “organizing.”

  49. I had been interested in my family history since age 9, in 1936 when we attended a family reunion. Fortunately my great grandfather had done a book on my maternal ancestry, so I started out looking for more on his ancestry. I started with his grandfather, going to the Los Angeles main downtown library. Asking at the desk as to where to start, I only knew they were in Indiana and were Quakers. Guided to Quaker Records for Indiana, where I found the great great great grandfather, Jonathan Huddleston, wife and children arrived there in 1815 from NC. Picking up the Hinshaw Quaker records there I found Jonathan son of Seth and Lydia Gifford had married Phebe Gardner, dau of Eliab Gardner, and Sarah Stanton. On these same pages that Eliab Gardner the son of Richard Gardner and Sarah Macy, had married Sarah Stanton, dau of William Stanton, and Phebe Macy, and that Richard Gardner had come to NC from Nantucket, MA in 1772. The same for William Stanton, who came to NC in 1772. Now to the other side of the library to find the NEHGS books on Births, Marriages, and Deaths, for Darthmouth, and Nantucket, MA.
    Needless to say in the first 3 hours of doing any research I ended up with knowing about 60 of my ancestors from these Quakers records left by my ancestors. I was hooked. Not only my own ancestors but the descendents of all the siblings on all sides of the family. A clue that ancestors are Quakers is the refusal to use the name of days and months, listed dates as the 3rd day of the 4th month is an immediate clue that these families were Quakers. So in one evening I was back 10 generations, but it took a bit to find in Nantucket who was John Stanton of Westerly, RI and Elizabeth (deceased). “Clue” they named a son “Latham”. So looking at the ancestry for Edwin McMasters Stanton, Sec of War under President Lincoln.
    There it was, John Stanton, married Elizabeth Clarke, dau of Latham Stanton, son of Jeremiah Clarke and Frances Latham. See how all of this fell in to place. Now Jeremian Clarke was of Royal ancestry, in the nice little book, Ancestral Roots of Certain New England Ancestors by Weis, there was his ancestry back to Charlemagne, and of course on back to about 290 AD.
    So don’t we all wish we could have started out so easily? Any wonder why my file is now over 83,000 relatives, and still growing, with at least 30,000 more relatives to add at any time. I have found that where ever you find your ancestors, you will also find the siblings and marriages and offspring, that makes your family more and more interesting as to who all you are related to. So now know I’m related to 21 Presidents, and descended from Charlemagne, of France 252 different ways.
    Related to Heber Kimball, who was also descended from Robert Stanton of Nantucket, MA. I can’t say all the rest of my quest has been easy, I have dead ends just like all of you, and I know if I spent more time on these lines I’d find the the answers, they are out there somewhere. Those FTM CD’s that we have bought, only 2 out of 178 do not have one of my ancestors, Tristram Coffin of Nantucket, MA.

  50. Make that Latham “Clarke” son of Jeremiah Clarke, and Frances Latham. One of Latham Clarke’s daughter married Governor Cranston if RI.
    Needless to say, after the first night in the library I went to the Beehive Bookstore in Northridge (San Fernando Valley) to buy family worksheets, and The Handy Book, about where to find records in what states. Many trips to Salt Lake City LDS library for 3 week vacations traced more and more descendents. Visiting 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and more cousins, all who had various pictures, and bits of history. My step sister is my 9th cousin descended from George Soule (Pilgrim).
    I’m now the librarian of our genealogy club in Palmdale, CA and teaching new members how to find genealogy connections.
    I joined the club in 1997, and found that I was related to 10 of the 86 members.
    I have tried using Ancestry.com but I can find more sometimes just using Google, such as Google for my ancestor Tristram Coffin, 72,000 more hits on that name. Having about 64 early New England ancestors helps. Try using such searches such as the Hinshaw Family in Google, or the Mendenhall Family, you will be surprized at the Family organizations listed on the internet.
    Of course I only know about 64 out of 1024 ancestors of that generation so lots left to do. All of my ancestors were here before 1800, so not looking for Ellis Island connections. Going to the location of where your ancestors came from, visit those cemeteries, who is buried next to whom, very important, look in phone books in the town they lived in, make those phone calls, relatives are there, and usually know those missing links. Go to family reunions, lay out “partially filled” in family work sheets, visit those distant relatives, take a scanner along with your computer to copy those family pictures, and Print Out your data to share with those relatives, it will pay off greatly. I found as soon as I was willing to share, so would relatives. It has been great fun, and to share our Nantucket history with the kids, to find they are related to those whalers in the story of Moby Dick. We need to share all of this with the kids.
    Most of our ancestors were farmers way back, but many are interesting, and left wills, listing what most of our family now consider kitchen junk. Who knew how important buckets were, or dishes. Stuff we now donate to Goodwill. Passed down clothing, and blankets, were important then. Where is great grandma’s quilt that she made by hand for her hopechest, when she was 14. Remember some “female” relative probably has that tucked away somewhere. Trace all those collateral lines, they hold keepsakes. Let your children know the family history, and that the family use to cook in the fireplace before stoves were invented after 1870. NO refrigeration, so food was dried, that there was no medication, so ancestors died of infections. It can be revealing to your children, that life was hard for our ancestors. It changed my entire life after I learned about my family.

  51. As a teenager my father was told by his mother that we were related to Clyde Barrow, of Bonnie and Clyde. The thought of someone being related to someone infamous has always fascinated me. About ten years ago, while out on medical leave for a foot injury, I received a copy of Time magazine and in it was an article about how geneolgy research was at an all time high due to the internet. The article mentioned Ancestry.com and I thought of my possible relation to Clyde Barrow. I logged on and found names and birthdates of family I probably would not have found otherwise. I have been researching ever since. I haven’t found Clyde yet but I have found a Barrow line from Louisiana.

  52. About 40 years ago my mother said, “I wish I knew more about my grandparents than just their names.” That began my research with family in far away places, helped greatly when I met an LDS family and was introduced to all the resources available through the Family History files. I was able to tell her about her grandparents and their grandparents as well. The end result was that before she died at age 96, she had a long phone conversation with the three Kentucky cousins she grew up with sharing memories of people and events from the early part of the century

  53. When I was 9 years old I received a Bible for a gift and when I found the Pedigree chart in the middle I yearned to know who these people were. I asked my maternal grandmother her parents names and she said, “Grandma and Grandpa Seymore.” Being timid I didn’t press her and thinking it was impossible to find that information I gave up. Several years later in 1972, while in a deep depression I read an article in a womens magazine about how to do genealogy. I wrote the same grandmother and asked for names, dates, etc for hers and my grandfather’s (he was deceased) families, but didn’t get an answer. The following year I went home for a visit, and when I saw Grandma she gave me some papers with the information she knew on it. Three months later she died and I was so grateful I’d asked for that info.
    I have taken classes and workshops and read books and articles. I’m very thankful for the internet and Ancestry.com because of my health I’m not able to travel a lot.
    The many comments on this article have been very interesting to read.

  54. Man! Maureen, you sure did open the flood gates with this article!
    My great Aunt Margaret started me on my journey when I was only 12 years old. I’m now 46 years old and have done most of my research online. I even had a breakthrough a few years ago when I was looking for my dad’s ancestors. I had info going back to the 1880′s and then a gap of a few hundred years and then more info on the family name going back to the 1600′s. At my dad’s60th birthday a second cousin of mine had done a genealogy on our family and she gave me the info that I was missing! I have traced that family back 13 generations to the founding of Montreal, Canada!
    I have even met a few “cousins” along the way who have helped me immensely to find info on various branches of my family and also my husband’s family. So , thank you to those cousins who helped me!

  55. I think I was always a genealogist. From the time I was old enough to remember I would ask my mother, “Where did I come from?” My research began much later in life when my sister and I actively began to search. The very best research tool is a sibling! What one can’t think of the other can. We have haunted libraries together, taken trips, joined a genealogy society and the DAR together. A sister is the very best research tool!!!

  56. I don’t remember not being interested in family – I listened closely every time a grandparent would tell a family story or mention names and relationships. In July of 1968 a cousin was spending the weekend with us – somehow we got a conversation going about family, I mentioned that we had a family cemetery. The next day we went to Donelson to see it. Where I thought the cemetery was, there was only brush, weeds, saplings, you name it. As we stood there wondering, an elderly gentleman appeared and asked could he help us – I told him we were looking for such and such a cemetery – he pointed toward the brush heap and said that’s it. He happened to know where each stone was, so -through that mess of weeds, etc we went, sometimes on hands and knees – I wrote down all the info from each stone – the oldest stone was my gg-grandfather and it said he was born in Genoa, Italy! Well, straight to my grandparents’ houses to get more information and they were all very helpful. That really started it all. The only real problem I had was my mother, who was totally against my research for some reason and tried to stop my questions whenever she was around. At the time, I worked at the Cordell Hull Bldg in Nashville, which is situated at Capitol Hill. On the other side of the hill is the State Libary and Archives. Almost every day for months on my lunch hour I ran (yes, ran) over the hill and spent about 50 minutes researching. When I married a few months later, my research was confined to a smaller library in another county and through the snail mails. Since then I have found a lot more about my ancestors (with a little time out here and there to raise 5 boys!) – and since Ancestry a lot more! Oh yes – the cemetery – the following week in July ’68 my parents and I went armed with all kinds of tools and completely cleared that cemetery – a trust fund was set up by the family to have it cared for and it is still there today among all the buildings in Donelson, TN.

  57. Even as a kid, I enjoyed hearing the family stories told by my Mom’s side of the family.
    My Dad didn’t have much to share. He was an only child and not close to his family. I had not seen my Dad’s Mom for over 7 years, when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was 14 years old. So, as this poor woman was on her death bed, I tried to ask some questions about where the family came from. She was happy to answer, though the pain and painkillers made it difficult for me to understand her. My Dad couldn’t fill in the gaps. He died just a few short years after his Mom.

    I did not know how to go about searching. In the 1990′s, I dabbled a bit on the Internet, but I had no names other than my Dad’s parents, which provided no luck. About 10 years later and I was in my mid 40′s, I came across my paternal grandfather’s birth certificate. I had my Great-grandparents names! On the Internet, I found that some work had been done on the family tree and I didn’t feel so “orphaned” anymore. I actually had relatives out there.
    I’ve been researching for a few years now. Most of my research so far has been done on the Internet, through census, vital records and newspapers.

  58. My mother was my inspiration. I would go with her to libraries and court houses and help find things, but had no time nor inclination to research on my own until I retired. She became interested when the Mayor of Nashville at that time came to her door in central Kentucky looking for his family, and hers. She realized that she knew practically nothing about her family, so she began digging – no internet, just hard work and correspondence. Last week she had a massive stroke and she is near death, her fantastic memory for things genealogical are gone as will she. I broke down some brick walls for her and there are some I wished I could have found. Here’s to you Mom, may you soon find out great-great-great grandmother Sarah’s maiden name!

  59. I was technically an orphan. This is because my parents were not able to raise me, so I lived with my paternal grandparents until I was 9 years old. Then my older sister became my legal guardian. I used to love asking my grandpa about the olden days. I sure wish that I could remember what he told me, but unfortunately it’s all lost. In 1984, I decided to learn more about my grandfather, who passed away in 1969. I requested his death certificate and I was off and running. I found his family in Iowa and Ohio, and located his delayed birth certificate; but there I am stumped. I have a pretty good idea of who his grandparents are, but no proof yet. Then I started on my mother’s side of the family and got back to my great-grandparents. I’ve done mostly census records and online searching. I work full-time, so my genealogy searching is limited to the weekends. Luckily, I have a univesity college with a Special Collections department where I found my mother’s family back to New Jersey, where I live now. I have also invested in books and taken 2 online genealogy courses.

  60. I received a Family Trees program as a gift from my husband for Valentine’s Day 2001. Since then I have been bitten by the “bug” and met the most wonderful people including long lost relatives. I began with stories from both families, some proven and some with just a hint of the “truth”. I started writing down everything, then started asking questions of those still with us. I also remember the rules “Trust but verify” and “Believe only some of what you hear.” The hunt for proof and documentation is what keeps me going.

  61. After reading all the comments about this article, I feel very much the late bloomer. There were only two ‘facts’ about my family history I can recall from my childhood. My mother’s family gave me Irish heritage and my father’s maternal grandmother was in the DAR. I may have asked about these things, but I don’t recall. In the spring of 1993, I lost one of my three jobs. I was lucky enough to come to a ‘womens re-entry’ program that put me in college for a time. As part of my curriculum, I was introduced to the internet and had an email address for the first time. I found ‘My Family.com’ and became interested. I had 3 daughters and I knew their paternal grandmother was from Germany. She told me stories of her childhood and youth in Hitler’s Youth Brigade and I wanted to learn more. Margarete has since passed and I still haven’t found her siblings, but not for lack of trying. From My Family, I found Ancestry.com and began tring to trace my DAR ggrandmother. I was able to trace to her maternal grandmother and then made a wonderful discovery, someone had already traced back to Sarah Crapo from another of her grandchildren and had gone back as far as 1410. I have since made my tree, my childrens’ tree, and now I am working on my new husband’s tree as well. I may have gotten him hooked as well by discovering and uncle he never knew existed in a 1910 census. Now we are planning a trip to Monterey, Ca. in January and we are going to stop at a couple of cemeteries to try to find “Uncle David Brazil” maybe next to his mother. I am taking both a digital camera and a video camera as well as my laptop and my ‘Brazil’ notebooks when we go. Wish me luck.

  62. My Dad started doing research in about 1970 – although I can remember his parents talking at length about “Family” at holiday gatherings from long before that. Dad researched all of my “roots” – both his side and my mother’s side back to their arrival in the US – most lines came before 1800 and some as early as 1650. Mom did the foreign research (as much as she could)in England and Scotland. All of it done without the internet…

    I didn’t really get interested until after 1980. I innocently asked my husband for his mother’s parents’ names for our son’s baby book. All I got was a blank look and “Grandma and Grandpa Schutt” for an answer. His maternal grandparents had both died before he was born – and his parents were both gone by the time I met him in 1971. I asked his sisters, but got nowhere and put the whole thing on the back burner. Fast forward to 1996. My dad was long retired and deep into his research at that point. He and Mom were going to take a trip to Salt Lake City that summer. I asked if I could join them and if Dad could help me get started – I really wanted to get that baby book filled out before my son graduated from high school!! I asked my husbands family (sisters, brother, cousins, aunts) for ANYTHING they had with a name/place on it. I got lots of really neat stuff – wedding invitations, obituaries, autograph books, photos, funeral cards, etc. I was able to piece together enough information to get started and I was on my way.

    The best part about doing this research is that it gave me a common interest with my Dad and Mom – something we could share as adults. I am still at it – Mom is gone now and Dad is getting on – he can no longer see well enough to do the work himself, but has a mind like a steel trap so is a great resource for me. I recently joined the DAR – based on a completed application I found in my mother’s papers after her death. She and my aunt had always wanted to join, but had never gotten around to sending in the paperwork. I am working on four other lines – based on work my parents did – and hope to be able to submit the paperwork soon.

    My husband’s family is constantly amazed at what I have turned up. I have been in contact with many of their mother’s cousins (she had over 100 first cousins). My husband’s immigrant ancestors all arrived in the US between 1855 and 1902 (MUCH later than my family did), so much of my research has been done in the foreign records (with pretty good success). I am keeping at it and just when I think I have found as much as I am going to find, I hear from another distant cousin – so the search goes on. I never dreamed when I asked “who are your grandparents” that I would still be at it nearly thirty years later!!

  63. When I was 7 years old,a very nice older lady came to spend the summer with my grandparents. I understood she was writing a book about our family. She took me with her to visit relatives I had never met and, for some reason, I was intrigued when she and my grandmother discussed the family history. The lady was Ida Brooks Kellam and she was documenting the descendants of John Brooks and his wife Susan which she published a year later. When I was in my early teens, my grandmother began work on her DAR application and I traveled around NC and VA with her looking up proof. I thought it was a lot of fun and didn’t realize I was learning practices I would use for the rest of my life.

  64. My husband, Ed Gregory was the youngest of 12 children. His Mother’s brother had 10 chidren. The brother’s children had a reunion every year on the 4th of July week end and they invited us to join them, which we did. It was great meeting Ed’s cousins and their families. Every year the big question was “Who was their grandmother?” Their grandmother died when Ed’s Mother was 9 years old. They all knew the step-grandmother, but no one had asked who their grandmother was and this was discussed every year. We had just joined with an organizing group to help establish a new church, New Covenant Christian Church, and one of the people was doing genealogy. I mentioned our problem to her and she immediately said – “Let’s find her”. We knew she died in Cooke Co., Texas. We wemt to Dallas, TX & worked in the library all day, but no luck. When we stopped in Gainesville to eat on the way home, we looked out the window & the court house was up in a hill. My friend needed to be back in Oklahoma City by a certain time, so she said I could have an hour in the court house. When we asked for records in the time span we were interested in and found records in Box 9. but they were very gracious and opened the box for me. We found a will, papers where her husband had to go to court to be named the guardian of the children, deeds of land from her father and a number of other items. Since I had not done genealogy before, I didn’t know what to do. My friend said “Copy everything”. They charged $1.00 a page, but I tell everyone that was the best money I ever spent. My husband was thrilled and at the next reunion I had a lot to tell everyone. I did a book for them and after then, they really considered me a member of the family. This got me started & I love everything about genealogy. Before my husband became ill, he would take me anywhere I wanted to go to do research. He was great canvasing cemeteries. Since most of my lines go back to New England, PA & NY we had some great trips doing research. I also have attended genealogy workshops and books just seem to appear in my library and we try to go to Salt Lake city at least once a year. I really love to do the research.

  65. I was working as a background investigator and from working with those kinds of records, I found out how easy it is to actually trace my family history.

    As a child, I, too, received a Bible with that little pedigree chart in it. I filled it out with what I could and never finished. I didn’t know what to do and no one to tell me. The other thing that got me started was a pedigree that someone had done for one of my cousins. I received a copy and my mother said that it was not correct. My father had received a genealogy from someone in his family and he also said some tings weren’t correct.

    Since I was working in backgrounds, they wanted me to fix it. I’m still “fixing” our tree. My database is up to 800 names and I still haven’t finished entering everything I know personally. Our family has grown from those I grew up knowing about to checking on those who said they were related through such and such.

    Much of the data comes from people’s memories and it’s amazing how much there is of it. My people were “oral historians” and it’s nice to know that much of it can be verified.

    There is one or two people I haven’t found anything on other than a few items and those lines have stopped at this point. Still it’s been fun, exciting, frustrating and boring at times. I actually like doing this and working with history and things.

    So far, there are 10 generations and hoping to get more.

  66. Hello to you all in the States! I don’t normally add to blogs, but I thought it comforting to add to these stories. My two sisters want absolutely nothing to do with my father’s family and, by extension, to know anything about them or their various forebears. It’s this line that I began researching around mid-2007, largely because Dad and ALL his immediate family are long dead, and most of them didn’t have children. Makes it hard as you can imagine. But the point is that Dad and one of his brothers were the only ones we (my sisters and I) had anything to do with when we were kids. We hardly saw his father or mother, or his sisters. To make matters worse, 3 of his siblings, both older and younger, died – I think- quite young in adulthood, before (I think) I or even my sisters were born or at least when my eldest sisters were very young. Dad and his remaining brother ‘Ken’ were both raging alcoholics, and quite violent and aggressive ones at that. Hence my sisters’ unwillingness to understand – or even accept- why I should want to find out what made this family tick, and of course where they came from earlier (England it seems, in the early to mid 19th century), how they’d lived both in England and in early country NSW and then Sydney, etc etc. It’s a wonderful way of sort of starting a conversation (admittedly, and sadly, one-way!) with these people. We can’t fully escape being who we are, and who contributed their genes and various characteristics towards us!

  67. I beg your pardon – I forgot to add that my mother and nearly all of HER family are dead too, save for 2 (of 7) remaining siblings, both in their 90s and sadly, smitten by dementia. So for some of us, the work must be solely conducted through documents and inference. O well, I doubt I’m the first or the last, in that situation, and will plug on as long as I can. Cheers to all

  68. About five years ago i received my geneology software and started doing research, but before that i had always heard stories about when my ancestors came over from england in the 1600s and that put the bug in my ear and i have been hooked ever since.

  69. I’m looking fo rmy roots on my mothers side.. I know i have indian blood on my fathers side of the world. but i am interested in the clark side of my family. ggrandfather william thomas clark tennessee,his father i think to be willam j clark of tennessee. but looking for william j clark’s father has me stumped.

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