Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Family History is Very Interesting

I go in stages of wanting to find out more about my Family History.  I have a sister who researches Family History as her career and a mother who has spent several years in her local Family History Center.  Before the internet, the search was more difficult, but still, with all the new technology, I still get happy when I am able to connect another dot.

I am a Family History nut when I am doing it.  I am not happy just finding my direct ancestors, but I need to find their extended family as well.  This has lead to a lot of fun stories that I have found and many heartaches that they have endured.  I have spent many hours in court houses looking for wills, looking online for obituaries, and searching through microfilm for census records. 

One of my favorite stories is that of a direct descendant of my father.  Dad prefers that I don't tell the story as his great-great-great grandfather being the first person executed in the United States, but that is the best way to tell it.  His Great (x3 or 4) Grandfather was getting sick of people poaching on his land and shot a poacher in the shoulder one day.  The poacher did not go and seek medical care and ended up dying from an infection in the wound.  The Grandfather was sentenced to death (and didn't have appeals.)  This story comes from what we learned from the history books in the libraries around Plymouth.

family history
My Great Grandma with my Nephew in 1998
I had a chance to learn about family history from my Great Grandmother born on July 31, 1899 and died in January of 2000.  She told me about "George"... she is one of the few that called Grandpa by his first name.  She told me about how he met my grandmother and told me about how beautiful she was.  She told me stories about how she used to go to Bodie, CA (a ghost town now) to bring them baked goods.  She and my great-grandfather has been bakers before and after the war.  She was amazed the first time she saw a car and did not ride in one until she was in her 20s.  She shared that she had a difficult time finding shoes because her feet were so big (not nearly the size of mine at 10) and people teased her. 

I had the opportunity to meet my Great-Grandfather on the other side of the family.  My father tape recorded him as he talked, but I have not listened to that tape.  I think it is a wonderful idea to get stories on videos or DVDs so that future generations can hear the stories!  

Ask questions now that you want answers to.  Some questions can't be answered or too hard to discuss, but it is still something that you should try to talk about.  Some secrets go down with ancestors and are too hard to recover later.  Sometimes you get lucky and find the answer later, but cannot follow up.

I have asked my Mom and Dad every question I can think of to about their parents and their grandparents.  I have asked the older generation the same question so that I can get to know their parents.  I want to know where I came from, the struggles of my forefathers, and to be able to share their stories with my family.

If you are interested in doing your own family history, I would recommend starting with something like this Pedigree Chart (Download on Right of Page)  You will see what you have and what you are missing.  There are Family History Centers worldwide Family History Center Locations that are free for you to use and many have Ancestry.com for free use during business hours.  If you would be more comfortable going with other options, there are many available.  You can find birth and death notices, marriage license applications, and wills in many courthouses.  You can also hire a person who will help you with research... if you are looking for research in Allegany, McKean, or Cattaraugus County in New York, I would highly recommend my sister at Brickwall Buster.  

If you have specific questions about family history, please leave the question(s) in the comments below.  If I don't know the answer, maybe a reader will. 
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