I wish my Grandparents and my Mom and Dad were still with me, to help me hunt “my history,” my background, my ancestors. I grew up listening/not listening to stories told and retold around the table during countless dinners, holiday celebrations and summer Sundays at my Grams’. I remember some of them, but I wish I’d paid more attention. Long after they were gone the genealogy bug bit me. I joined Ancestry.com on a whim for a two week free trial. By the end of the two weeks I had signed up for the program. I can’t tell you how many hours I spend, lost in the past, but it’s a lot. I find the history of our world fascinating. I love finding ancestors and telling their stories. I believe it’s important to give them a voice.
“HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU ARE GOING IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU COME FROM?”
I started with my Grandmother’s Bible, the one where she listed the names and dates of births and deaths of everyone in the family. Just knowing the names of my Great Grandparents gave me enough information on Ancestry to quickly learn the names of my second Great Grands, the third and the fourth quickly followed. I learned that one of my Grands fought in the Civil War, another fought in the Revolutionary War. I learned that my people came from Scotland, Ireland and emigrated to England and America. I learned that one of my Great Grands is of Cherokee descent. It was mystery after mystery, slowly unraveling, showing me where I came from. What my ancestors endured, what they looked like, what the world was like during their time.
Since joining Ancestry, I’ve also searched through the files of FamilySearch.org, and subscribed to Family Tree magazine, and I stalk my relatives on any site that I think will help uncover more clues to my personal story. I’ve put names to faces in faded photographs, I’ve learned about personal despair and triumph and heroism, murder and grand ideas.
I’m taking my grandchildren along with me on this journey, albeit with not as much enthusiasm as I’d hoped, but they are young. When the bug bites them after I’m long gone, they’ll only have to look at the journal and notebooks I’ll leave behind to learn about their stories and where they come from. It’s a legacy I’m proud of. I’m an American, born of Americans, born of people from all over this world. It’s a source of pride.
If you’re interested in hunting your own history, I highly recommend Ancestry.com to get started. Take the two week free trial and see what you find. Maybe the bug will bite you too. In the future I’ll share tips, tricks and resources that I’ve found to be helpful in my search. I hope you’ll follow along.