Posted by Michelle Pfister on December 15, 2008 in Family Tree Maker

I knew it from the first time I watched it in action — this was something important.  During my college days a friend from high school let me watch as she researched an ancestor. Although my parents had genealogy books at home that were filled with notes, pictures and trees, this was the first time I’d watched someone in action. It was enthralling. She was searching for an ancestor on some microfiche — I don’t remember the details now. But, I remember distinctly the feeling I had when she found what she was looking for: a trace from her past — it represented someone real.  I still thrill at the moment, even all these many years later, even though there have been many experiences of my own since that first vicarious success.


What is it about family history that’s so addicting? Is it the thrill of the hunt? Is it the connection to the past? Is it the way it fills in our understanding of ourselves? Maybe the answers are “yes,” “yes,” and “yes.”  It’s an individual answer. For most, it’s just a feeling that keeps us looking to know more.


Here’s a short story a new friend of mine recently wrote me about. I use it with permission. Kathileen says, “I have always loved hot air balloons, and now I know why . . . in my research, I found that a gg(++) grandfather on the other side of my family invented them – in France! Jean Pierre was the 1st person to fly a hot air balloon in the States – He flew for President Washington in the 1700’s.”


So, what’s your story? What is it that keeps you working on your family history? I’d love to hear about your successes! Please log a comment, below.


  1. Dianne

    What keeps me working on my family history is that to date, my immediate family doesn’t have much research around, Pictures have been lost, lineage past 3 or 4 generations had been mostly forgotten. There is much in my family to have pride in, the history or being literate is just a beginning. My family tree is full of sinners and saints, it can be shown simply through the genealogy that my family up until this current generation has been mostly literate, actually I have yet to find one that could not read. Also the idea that my family has very few customs that have been handed down generation to generation. It dilutes the feeling of having roots and grounding. It isn’t the thrill of the hunt that does it for me, it is more what is missing that does it for me, a feeling of pride and heritage that can be traced back for generations. The feeling of knowing myself and where I came from that keeps me pushing on.


    I spent serveal hours entering family information on Ancestry. I entered the save button after every entry. “you have successfully entered” popped up after each entry.
    Where did it go? I can’t find it.

    I have a great deal of our family history which was compiled by my grandfather, Ray C. Burkybile. I would like to organize it for my children(5), grandchildren(18) great grandchildren(28) and great great grandchildren (4). These numbers are current as of 12-16-2008. They don’t change daily but quite often. While my brain is still capable I’d like to get it done. What am I doing wrong?


    E. Bermoce Moore

  3. I’ve always wondered the same thing. Why is it so addictive? I’ve come up with a couple explanations.

    1. I love research and putting all the links together. Every time I find another generation I wonder where they came from and just HAVE to find out.

    2. I love history – and this is history with a Personal impact.

    3. I love computers – and there is so much that can be done online now that wasn’t available when I started 15 years ago.

  4. nancy

    I agree with Cheri—it is the love of history, and then finding an ancestor who lived during a certain time. I had no idea that my great-grandfather and his two brothers were soldiers in the Civil War. That led me to reading a book about Confederate Jews. I also enjoy doing the research because I am nosy! I want to find out more and more about someone in my family.

  5. Sandy

    Oh, what keeps me working on family history? I think the question should be why can’t I stop! It’s just addicting. It’s got it all: the mystery, the search, and sometimes even the discovery!

    I searched for information placing my family in County Meath, Ireland for 30 years. I searched, I hired researchers in Ireland, and then ended up finding the source myself. So, at this point, it’s the hope of finding a new source or connecting with someone online with new information that keeps me digging. Our ancestors need to be remembered and finding out about them seems important.

  6. Mary

    I have been working on my genealogy for many years. Since I have been putting things on the computer it makes it easier to keep everything straight. I love getting photos from other family members so that we can put a face to a name. There is a lot more to do, but this way my daughters will have something to save for their families.

  7. Monica

    I’m new at the family history thing (just started about a year ago), but for me I’ve known I’ve had family, but have never really been interested in finding out more. I only wish I would have been more interested before all of my grandparents (except one) have passed away. I knew nothing about my paternal line except that they were from Ohio. I’ve now found cousins and whole family lines that I never knew existed. I have now been bitten by the bug and am obsessed with finding out more! I guess it feels good knowing that I belong somewhere and to a family. Finding out about them has been exciting!

  8. Kathy Marie


    Following is a suggestion to improve FTM 2009

    This suggestion deals with the part of the system that “Finds Duplicate People”

    Presently the system appears to make its decision based mainly on names spelled exactly the same and the birth dates associated with those names.

    My suggestion is to enhance the system by taking into consideration the baptismal dates of the people.

    I find in my data base a lot of familes who had a child (for which I can not find a birth date)but I do have a name and a baptismal date. The child then dies and the family has another child which they name exactly the same as the first child that died and again I do not have a birthdate but I do have a baptismal date for the second child (and of course the secon child’s baptismal date is different than the baptismal date of the child that died.)

    But the program does not take this into consideration and just sees that there are two children with the exact same name and it flags them as possible duplicates.

    Now if the program took into consideration the baptismal dates it would see that they are different and not flag the two people as possibly being the same.

    I find that I have a lot of families in my data base where a child died and the parents name a child born later with the exact same name——–and consequently I am spending a lot of unnecessary time (based on the programs flagging) checking to see if the people really are duplicated

    Would you please pass this suggestion along to the software developers.

  9. Roberta

    I found this web sight to be extremely frustrating and I am not new with using computer for research. I keep getting cut off, can’t log in for hours or day. Can research the states where my children were born NC, NJ, PA because of there laws. One minute the web site spells NC one way then another way down the line. I am about to give up, it wasn’t worth the $30.00 a month. I try to contact them when I finally get person they say no you can’t do that because of the states. My advise to people go to another web site.

  10. Michelle Pfister

    Kathy Marie (#10)

    In identifying possible duplicates, Family Tree Maker considers Name, Birth, Marriage, Death, and Immediate relationships. Still, this is an area we want to continue to improve. I’ve forwarded your suggestion to the right people.


  11. I think for everyone the fuel behind the passion is a little different. For my father it was finding out who the relatives were and seeing where he came from. For me it was putting a name to all the old faces in a trunk of pictures we received.

  12. Elaine Prata

    I started searching because I went to the Children’s Museum with my grandchildren and saw that the city of Woonsocket Rhode Island was founded by a man named Goulet and my maiden name was Goulet. It has been a very interesting and sometimes frustrating endiver.

  13. Annette

    I seem to always find my self between this same rock and hard place. I don’t have a credit card and it seams you can do nothing any
    more with out one. When I was in high
    school I began working on my family
    tree. My grand mother at that time
    provided me with quit a bit that her
    Great Aunt had done and given to her.
    The real problem is My Grandmother was adopted and all the info I have
    doesn’t really apply to me by blood that is. My mother and father Divorced when I was a baby and never
    got to know my father out side of a
    few months I spent with him when I was 11. So other than my mother and
    two sisters that know even less than me (consiquently both sister live on the oposite side of the country from me and talk with them rarely)I have
    no known blood relitives or Adoptive for that matter. My mother was an only child and my Grandmother was an only child. However I have recently
    turned up some hand written notes that may indicate my mother had a sister younger than her that may have been put up for adoption. Also my mothers real father divorced my grandmother when He got home from the prisoner of war camp in japan
    somewhere around 1943. He moved to Hawii and my mother lost touch with
    him when she was very young. I have Been told He remarried and had more
    children So I know there is family
    out there but I don’t know any of then but truely would like to.

  14. Werner Vols

    I found tru facebook family in Canada, she is related, great-great-great grandfather is a brother of mine. So thats the reason of my quest
    I also found several people ho are looking for my family but I cannot contact them unless I pay a subscription. And that is what hold me..
    If there could be a way just o email them.
    Werner Vols
    Antwerp Belgium

  15. outwest

    For me, it started because I found in my baby book a reference to a Great Great Gandfather who was murdered after a fight during a card game in a saloon in Casa Grande, AZ in the 1880’s. I had heard this story on and off all the time I was growing up, but had forgotten it. Mostly, us kids would just roll our eyes at Dad (who was a terrific story teller), “Yah, right, Dad.”(wink,wink). Long after my father was gone, I decided to find out if it was true. I started searching here and in AZ archives and a data base for historic newspapers. All I had was a name, a place and an approximate date, but I found it! It was true! I couldn’t believe it! When i found out the murderers name, I was able to find the trial transcripts and sent away for them. I found out who did it, I read the probate and know that he owned mines and a buckboard and saddle and my Great Grandfather received those. I know why he was nurdered (accused the guy of stealing his pistol and saddle)and where (outside the saloon). I followed that G G Grandpa across the Oregon trail in the 1840’s, throughout the West and down to AZ. People were pretty thin on the ground in the West then, as my brother says. When I found the newspaper article in the Tombstone Epitaph of his murder, I looked up and apologized to my Dad for ever doubting him.

    I started searching for the rest of my ancestory. With each find, it is another story to be told. The amount of material on line now is so vast. It is possible to find the smallest traces everyone leaves behind just by living a life. No one is really forgotton if someone just looks for them.

  16. terri rochier mcmurphy

    it started out looking for mt dad’s people.old stories,etc.then my husband’s large family, and the families of my sons fathers. i’m not house bound, but i don’t get out much. this was supposed to help pass time and look,search and learn. now i’m really curious about all these people attached to my loved ones. family. now i guess, i’m looking for all of them i can find.

  17. Oxpictus

    What really gets me coming back every day to post, is that sometime, somewhere, someone will have that, “Aha!!” moment that is absolutely priceless. I have had a couple of those moments; through a serendipitous series of events I located a living cousin in Denmark. He has sent me a complete family tree that goes back to 1710, along with the professions that each person had. He also sent photos; one of my dad as a teenager looks so much like all my wonderful Danish relatives.

    Being a retired accountant, I was pleased to see so many ancestors that were accountants.

    When you find your roots, you find yourself.

    As the old saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” This particular “apple” is glad to participate in helping others find their roots.

  18. Oxpictus

    I would like to be notified by email when any records from Arizona- I don’t care when- are available to input. My family were pioneers in Arizona; became naturalized citizens there; were lawmen there; and have landmarks named after them (Kielberg). I would dearly love to correctly spell those unique Danish names, so that others like myself can discover their pioneer ancestors, also.

  19. Gerard Drew

    I have been doing research on for about 4 years now. The reason I got involved was the upcoming birth of my grandson, Zachary and putting together his family tree. I am amazed at the about of information I have accumulated over the last 4 years and have traced family back to the 1600s coming to America. I have decided to write a book on my lineage since I have hooked up with cousins,2nd,3rd,etc and have found relatives I never knew about.To know that I have grandfathers and uncles who have served in the military for every war the U.S. has been involved in gives me a true sense of American Pride. I only wish my parents were still around to see the real information about the people they use to tell us (my sister and four brothers)stories about from family memories. I want to make sure that my family history is finally put into print for future generations.

  20. I first got involved to help my daughter complete a project for school. Immigration had become a “hot” topic in her Arizona school, so the students were assigned to find out who their immigrant ancestors were. For more than half her classmates, the assignment was easy: their parents had snuck into the country only a few years earlier. We found the task much more difficult — on my father’s side, at least.

    My mother was an immigrant, so a phone call got her all the information she needed. But my father was the great-grandson of a Prussian immigrant about we knew very little — and no relatives on his side of the family were still around to ask. It took hundreds of hours online research to track down the information we needed for my daughter’s report. His mother had kept a great deal of ancestral information in her family Bible, so that made the job a little easier for her side of the family … except that it extended back to the Great Migration, with the first of our ancestors arriving in the late 1620’s and early 1630’s.

    When we discovered that our ancestors arrived before this was an independent nation, and that they had helped to create this nation, fighting in the Pequot War, King Phillip’s War, the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and many more, history — which has always bored me to tears — suddenly became both fascinating and PERSONAL to us. As a result, I subscribed to and have now researched more than 3,000 of my ancestors — many of whom date back prior to 300 AD!

    IRONIC FOOTNOTE: My daughter received the lowest grade in the class on her report, even though it contained the largest and best-documented family tree. Since only TWO of her ancestors had arrived in America AFTER 1776, she was unable to trace a number of them, so her report was considered incomplete. The students whose parents snuck into the country all received A’s on their reports.

    My daughter now attends private school, were she is taught by people with common sense!

  21. Timothy


    I just purchased Family Tree Maker 2009. The problem is I reside in the Philippines which means that it would take some time before I receive the installation CD. I would like to ask if it is possible to download the software pending delivery of my installation CD.


  22. Michelle Pfister

    I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments! Hearing of your successes and challenges helps me to participate in them.

    I’ve been forwarding pointers (e.g., links) to your comments to several folks who are also enjoying reading about why each of you do family history. Thanks!

  23. Michelle Pfister

    Timothy (#23),

    Your request for a downloadable version of Family Tree Maker is one we hear frequently. While it’s something we don’t currently have, it’s something we’d like to provide in the near future. Thanks for the request!

  24. Juan-Alberto

    Please advise me what software to buy to start my family tree. I will like to have this posted in the web for my family in South America to see it.
    How much money I have to spend?

    Thank you

  25. Suze

    I have had great fun keying in the England & Wales Criminal Registers and was “pleasantly” surprised to find myself keying in my Great Great Grandmother’s name from the registers! As the image sets are given to you at random, what are the chances of keying in your own relative?

  26. William Rhodes

    Re – Family Tree Maker 2008 and 2009 – What happened to the Family Tree Maker calendar… It was a great help in terms of a reminder for birthdays/annivarsaries.. Please put the calenday back in the program…

  27. John Donaldson

    # 29 Gregory

    I think a number have asked that question.

    I understand there is a developers’ pack but I haven’t seen anything as yet.

    John D

  28. Sue Wyatt

    What makes family history so addicting?

    I first began “doing” family history about 10 years ago. My husband’s grandmother was then about 96 years old. She had an amazing memory and could tell all sorts of stories about her family, but she wanted to know more about her mother’s South Carolina French Huguenot ancestors and her father’s Quaker ancestors. I adored Gramma Thompson and wanted to do something special for her. One day I went to Google and plugged in her mother’s maiden name, GAILLARD, to see what might come up. The Internet practically exploded with information about this wonderful family, and I was off and running! It wasn’t long before I found Ancestry, and I have been a faithful – and grateful – member ever since.

    I think Cheri summed up the fascination of family history best. Mystery! My mother loved detective novels – for me it’s solving the mystery of the family tree. History! I’ve always enjoyed history, but now I LOVE it because it is part of the fabric of my own family’s life. The Internet! The computer calls to me – it is crammed with all kinds of fascinating information that I haven’t found yet, but am anxious to get to. (Ancestry has played a huge part in helping me satisfy that urge!)

    When I began researching, my own family was nowhere to be found in the Internet records. I was apparently the first person to ever research either my mother’s or my father’s families! Thankfully, it wasn’t long before my cousin joined me, and we have now built a pretty solid family tree back to the 1500’s in England. That is a very satisfying feeling – not only has it been personally rewarding to know where my roots are, but it makes me feel good to know that they won’t be forgotten. They were neither important nor rich nor influential, but they deserve to be remembered for their courage and fortitude in hard times, for their fierce patriotism, and for their kindness and good humor, among many other important qualities.

    Unlike mine, my husband’s family is fascinating and has been actively involved in almost every historical occurrence of importance in America and Europe, often in positions of leadership. Consequently, most of his lines had already been extensively researched and had volumes of information available about them. As I was home-schooling my sons, it was an incredible feeling to teach them about George Washington and then mention that one of their relatives danced the first dance with him at his inaugural ball and that another relative had corresponded with him. When we talked about the Revolution in South Carolina, they found out that a royalist ancestor voluntarily housed the British General Cornwallis while his son fought alongside the Swamp Fox and his daughter was even married to the Swamp Fox’s brother! When we learned about the expansion into Kentucky and Tennessee, it was fun to tell them about Davy Crockett and then casually mention that Davy witnessed their ggg-grandfather’s will. When we talked about the Civil War, they found out that their paternal g-grandfather’s brother was blinded at Chickamauga fighting for the Confederate Army while their maternal ggg-grandfather raised horses for the Union Army. The slavery issue came alive when they realized that one of their South Carolina relatives had been the single largest slave trader in America, while one of their Quaker ancestors was part of the Underground Railroad. When we studied English history, the boys learned that the people we were reading about were their ancestors: kings and queens, commanders of armies and navies, emperors and empresses, some good guys and some very bad guys. Suddenly history became much more interesting to them! (They were secretly thrilled to find out that terrible Viking warriors were in their family tree!) When we studied math, they were encouraged to know that their grandfather had been sought by Loyola University as a math professor – it’s in their genes!

    History has come alive for me, and I never know what I will learn next – but it is always fascinating. For my husband and me, two military brats who grew up rootless, our family’s history has given us a sense of connection to the rest of our world. It has made our boys aware that they are recipients of a wonderful heritage and that they have a responsibility to hand it on to their own children unsullied and with pride.

    For my husband, the magic happened when we had the opportunity to visit his family’s cemetery in Mississippi. He had never given much thought to his name. He knew he was named after his dad, that’s pretty normal. As we stood in the cemetery that day, he saw his great-grandfather’s tombstone right next to his grandfather’s tombstone, and there was his own name, written in stone. He suddenly realized that he was named after THEM!! In a moment he went from being just the son of one man to being the product of generations. It shook him deeply to realize that he was passing life and history on to more generations. He told me that day, “Whatever you want to do to learn about our family’s history, I am behind you!” And he has been true to that promise.

    Along the way we have met wonderful cousins and totally unrelated strangers, all of whom have been encouraging and generous. Our research has reunited branches of the family that have been lost to one another for almost a hundred years, resulting in shared family mementos and new friendships – even visits to one another’s homes in the States and Great Britain. We were thrilled to be able to help a friend find his grandparents — who didn’t even know he existed and were so excited to have him in their lives. (This was accomplished using Ancestry databases, by the way.) We were blessed to be able to help a half-sister be united with a (delighted) half-sister who had not known she even HAD a half-sister! And it is so much fun to help others with their research. I maintain what I believe is the world’s largest database on a particular family, and every day I receive multiple emails asking for help tracing someone’s ancestry – what a joy it is to receive a return email thanking me for helping them beat down a brick wall that has held them back for years!

    Family history is probably the single most rewarding and addicting “hobby” in the world. I hope I never get over it!

  29. Dwayne

    I can really relate to what Dianne has written. I don’t know of anyone in my family that has any infomation past our grandparents. I have been doing research on and off for the last two years. There are a few things that I have discovered that took me aback. I can live with that infomation, but I have not shared it with my immediate family.

  30. Bobby Thompson,Sr'

    I got interested when I lost all trace of my sisters when our father and their mother died.My daughter and I started working on our computers and found my youngest sisters daughter-in-law.It just went from there.We have gotten back to my GGGrandfather,1826.Still trying to go further.

  31. I don’t believe there is much I can find at this time. There is not much on Chickasaw ancestry of Winston County, Al. I know my great great grandfather was married there in a cave to a Chickasaw woman. He was in the War of 1812 and on the trail of tears, as well. His son was listed on Civil War roles as a half-breed Chickasaw Indian. Myrtle Williams

  32. Karen C

    Well, what everyone else says does apply for me also. Sense of history, the mystery-solving, the excitement of discovery. But it’s much more personal to me now. As time has gone on, every relative, no matter how far-flung, has become just as important. Why? Because when I find them, and record their names, I feel that they are somewhere out there saying, “Here I am. I matter. I’m somebody, don’t forget me.” And as long as I am here, they won’t be.

  33. Clyde Hartman

    I am also a member of a Pfister family. My ancesters on that side of the family include John Leonard Pfister, Francis Pfister, Sr. & Jr. and Rosalie Kempf. Probably originally from Germany, but apparently emigrated from Hungary (Aljos per SS Card). Please pass this along to Michelle Pfister in case there is any common Family Tree or suggestions. Thanks.

  34. I started a year ago myself and instantly became addicted! I get so excited with that little leaf pops up saying there might be a match! I started because so many of my elders are passing on and taking the history with them in their heads and hearts. I wanted to record this information before I no longer have anyone to ask and verify info with.

    Also, I am not sure about you all but in most black families, the family history was always kept a secret, don’t ask don’t tell. Well that has lead us to not really know where we have come from. I am slowly but surely breaking down those closed dooors and finding hidden passageways!!

    P.S. And having it all online is the best!

  35. Well, I started a year ago myself and instantly became addicted! I get so excited with that little leaf pops up saying there might be a match! I started because so many of my elders are passing on and taking the history with them in their heads and hearts. I wanted to record this information before I no longer have anyone to ask and verify info with.

    Also, I am not sure about you all but in most black families, the family history was always kept a secret, don’t ask don’t tell. Well that has lead us to not really know where we have come from. I am slowly but surely breaking down those closed dooors and finding hidden passageways!!

    P.S. And having it all online is the best!

  36. Started a year ago myself and instantly became addicted! I get so excited with that little leaf pops up saying there might be a match! I started because so many of my elders are passing on and taking the history with them in their heads and hearts. I wanted to record this information before I no longer have anyone to ask and verify info with.

    Also, I am not sure about you all but in most black families, the family history was always kept a secret, don’t ask don’t tell. Well that has lead us to not really know where we have come from. I am slowly but surely breaking down those closed dooors and finding hidden passageways!!

    P.S. And having it all online is the best!

  37. For me Cheri #3 said it best. Also like John #7 definition.

    We started just 9 years ago working from s written base tree for one side of the family, copied onto a number of sheets. There is almost a sense of the ‘thrill of the chase’ – finding that elusive ancestor, beating the transcriber of the census or the bad original.

    And then there’s the whole picture – what does it look like, we’ve often thought it’s like someone giving you a box of jigsaw pieces and no picture to work from, once you’ve used all those and the picture isn’t complete you have to find some more that fit – or seem to.


  38. Bill Parr

    I never knew my father – did not know anyone with my last name until I was 25. I started in the 1970s at the Mormon Library. Today I have over 20,000 people in my database. I’ve met many interesting and not so interesting cousins over the years – but easily the most interesting hobby of all time. Nothing better today than and now DNA.

  39. J M Lounbe

    i am new to this great hobby, and having fun seeing how far I can extend my tree. When I get back to really old records imported from other trees i frequently see a definite birth day and month, but no year. It seems unlikely to know day and date but not year. Is this a software problem in translation of old records? Thanks.

  40. Linda McDonald

    I have just started my family tree and am amaze I have so much so soon. My parents weren’t really interested in history so really did not want to discuss anything. I wish I had asked more. It is fun to see how everyone inner twines. I always thought I was a mutt but find out most of my relatives are either from Sweden or from England. Very exciting.

  41. jane blevins

    I am 63 and have been searching for answers about my great grandfather for several years. He came to the US when he was 12 years old. His port of entry states that he was from Dublin Ireland, but some family members have stated that he was from London England. He worked seven years as a carpenter helper in Philadelphia. After some time he married my greatmother Sarah Elizabeth Gay from Gay Georgia. I know nothing about how he came to be in Georgia, or what he did afte he had served his seven years as an apprentice. I have been told that he also spelled his namne as beggs. This has been a mystery to me all my life, mainly because I have been told that I hold a strong resembelance to him and to his daughter, my grandmother, whom I never had the opportunity to know as she died prior to my birth. Before my mother-in-laws death she told a story of her family building a new home and a man by the name of jimmy biggs building the home for her family when she was six years old. She would now be 96. There had never been any pictures of him in my family, and imagine my surprise when she presented me with three pictures taken at the time the home was being built. I still have many unanswered questions. I am an artist and I also have been told that this is a trait from this side of my family. I will keep looking because I know there is still another link in another country that can connect me more with this person.

  42. Kathie`

    I love history and the fact that it’s my family history makes it so much more enjoyable. Whhe I get stuck and can’t find the info I want it’s all the more meaningful when I do find that elusive piece of information that I needed. Sifting from the truths and the myths that have been told to us as kids. That their is a wonderful heritage w/o the myths, a heritage worth preserving for the next generation following behind me. I hope they will find this work as fascinating as I do. Hopefully join me in the search. (they’re still young)Something to be proud of!!!

  43. Sandra Scarborough

    I have only been researching since June 2008, in the first week I confirmed two family fables (one from each side of my family). I was hooked, what was going to be a retirement project for my grandson, turned to passion. I have connected with grand children of my grandpa’s six brothers,on my mothers side. We are hoping to meet in early summer in the last place where our great grand parents lived. So far I mostly have data collected from and the cousins, with little hard documentation. My hope is to use the data to track down documentation. has provided me the previlege of making connections I probably would not have had otherwise.

  44. Joe Connell

    I believe that an interest in one’s forebears is now imprinted in our genes. Until one or two generations ago,(and still today in many parts of the world) everyone could recite the details of their ancestors for many previous generations. For millions of years, in tribal communities, there must have been a survival value in being able to recite one’s forebears and hence prove qualification for membership and support.

  45. Molly

    I just started about 2.5 months ago, researching both my father and mother’s side. My husband started on his family about 5 years ago and we went to Germany and met the “extened” family and they treated us as though we were royalty!
    My family all hailed from Scotland, Ireland and Canada, so guess were my next trip will be? I find that I can’t stop asking questions of all my cousins who are older than me, I’m the 52 yr old baby. It is sad that none of us had taken an interest while all of our parents were living. I don’t lack pictures, just names to go to the pictures and that is the most frustrating part.
    It is also hard knowing whether or not I have the right line of family.
    i will keep after it, the more I dig, the more I find out, the more I want to do. There have been many evenings that my family has had to fend for themselves as I couldn’t pull myself away from the computer!
    If it weren’t for, I would not be as far as I am!

  46. maggiemary

    I started working on my family history and began using Ancestry about 10 yrs ago. All we knew were my grandparents names on both sides of the family (they all died before I was born). My mom was raised in a foster home, and my dad’s mother died when he was young too so there was little family information. I am so pleased that I have now been able to go back to my great great grandparents on both sides! I was even able to connect with an uncle I had never met. I love following where the trail leads me and the detective work involved. Each “find” is so meaningful for me. It’s like the pieces of a puzzle coming together. It’s so important for me to know where I came from and who my ancestors are.

  47. Tyler

    FTM 2009 has been out for half a year now. Though it is a vast improvement over 2008, there are still a number of bugs in it and features missing (I’ve sent in 5 bugs/feature requests this week alone). As we haven’t had an update to this blog in over a month, I was wonderful when the next time we were going to hear about what FTM developers have been working on and when we could possibly expect the first service pack? Also, is the SDK going to be released any time in the near future?

  48. Chuck Crannell

    I’m finding the activity really interesting. I’ve managed to find actual records of relatives that were rumored to have existed (children dying as toddlers) – now they are real a 100 years later. The census records and city directories with addresses and occupations give insight. It’s more than just a list of names and who begat whom, they become real people. I’ve managed to contact distant cousins and share photos and scans and collect a larger picture of great grandparents. It’s become a way of reconnecting with family (however distant).

  49. Sheila

    I am particularly intrigued by the family that we don’t know. Both my father and grandmother never met their biological fathers. It has been a fun challenge finding clues about them all over the internet and in obscure books, newspapers, state archives, etc.
    The downside is one of my relatives who doesn’t own a computer (doesn’t trust them) and who is not willing to share any information with me about that side of my family. This person is fearful that this information in my family tree can be used for indentity theft or something.
    I tried to explain to this relative that all of this information is published somewhere. We just compile it. This relative is my own personal brick wall. 🙂

  50. Chris

    My great grandfather died before my grandfather was born, so building the family tree has helped discover more about him and his family. There is always something new to discover.

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