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Anybody doing genealogy?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Starman, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    I had little or no interest in genealogy most of the time I was growing up. I only knew three of my grandparents; until I was in my 30s I couldn't have told you any of my great-grandparents' names. Family legend according to my mother said we were related to two presidents but that was the extent of my interest in it.

    But little by little over the years I started to pick up tidbits here and there. For a few years in my early 30s I actually had a job in the little town where my grandfather was born, and did some microfilm digging in the local libraries. That was in the days just before the Internet though, so my search didn't get much farther. Then I moved to other towns so my pursuit of that branch of the family line dried up. For probably a decade after that I didn't think much about it.

    A couple years ago out of the blue I got an e-mail from a second cousin in Toronto looking for clues about our common great grandparents. I didn't have anything to help him but it did pique my curiosity and I signed up on Ancestry.com.

    The little leaves started popping up and I started clicking on them, and the tree started growing pretty rapidly. I touched base with relatives I hadn't thought of in years (or ever) and started reeling stuff in.

    One huge problem is that once you get back to Ireland things start screeching to a halt. Before about 1800 there wasn't much documentation especially in rural areas, and 12 of my 16 GG-grandparents came over straight from Ireland between 1846-1851, so most of those branches dry up a generation or so before they came over on the boat.

    Seeing the circumstances most of them were in when they came over -- coming over as teenagers, landing alone in New York City, traveling alone halfway across the country in the days before trains -- it is pretty amazing stuff. Not that any of them lived immortal historical lives (although a couple did become at least regionally well-known) but most of them had to overcome a lot to get across the country.

    However, the one branch NOT coming over from Ireland -- the one New England Yankee branch -- holy schmokies. Found out some stuff on that branch that's pretty amazing. My 10th GGF in my sig, for example.

    Turns out a great-aunt applied for membership in the DAR in the 1960s (my mom kind of laughed about it). In order to get into the DAR you have to fully document your family tree all the way back to the Revolution (hell, the Mayflower), and she had done it (at no little cost) and piled up a couple hundred pages of charts, documents, etc etc. Another cousin sent me a copy of all the stuff and that really kicked things into warp drive.
  2. Lieslntx

    Lieslntx Active Member

    I have done some research on my family. I was able to trace one branch back to the revolutionary war. On another branch, i dead-ended in Germany, for similar reasons yours did in Ireland. That particular branch spoke not a lick of English upon arrival in New Orleans. You could tell on the ship manifest that the name was just sounded out in the best way possible by the English person trying to understand their names.

    That particular branch ended up in east Texas. A mother, father, and their grown and married children who had kids. Not long after, the wife of the only son died, and so he split his children up among his two sisters. They had not been here long and it is apparent they tried to Americanize their last name. One sister took her children (and part of the brother's kids) and moved to central Texas. The other (with the rest of the brother's kids) stayed in east Texas. In the process of splitting up and Americanizing their names, the two branches ended up with very different last names. It makes the research difficult, because these are siblings that ended up with different names.

    That is just one of the interesting stories I've turned up. I haven't done any research in a while, but I would love to get back into it.

    My mother and I once flew to Utah and visited the Mormon library there for a week. That was amazing and we got some great information.
  3. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    My aunt is HUGE into this right now. She's found several close relatives she never knew about, and she's traveled to see them. I think it's kind of awesome, but I just don't know that there's anything out there for me.
  4. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    My eldest sister, a retired university reference librarian, has been working on my mother's side for about the past ten years. Has traced that branch back to the late 1700's and has gone to England to the birthplace of our GGF. She's examined original church records and has met some distant cousins.

    She says she'll start doing our father's side soon. They were all from Scotland and the first one sailed to Canada in about 1843. I'm sure there will be some criminal activity on that side.
  5. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    I did a bunch of research earlier this year. Got one branch back to the revolutionary war. Got back to about 1800 on the other side, but reached a dead end as I tried to find out more about relatives in England and Ireland.

    I did find a third cousin and was going to exchange some info with her, but haven't got around to it yet (she's in upstate New York and hurricane/flooding stopped me from going up that way this summer).

    But as she told me, the Irish and English took better accounting of their cows than their people.
  6. Wenders

    Wenders Well-Known Member

    My grandmother and uncle, thankfully, did a bunch of this. It's a good thing my uncle, who has more time and resources than I, was on my dad's side, because surnames have been changed, making things farther back than the Civil War a bit murky. Basically, I may or may not be related to Jesse James.

    I know one person on Mom's side signed the Declaration of Independence. We had relatives still in Sweden and Holland, but when my grandmother died, so did the link there. We haven't heard from them in about a decade (and the one in Sweden was about the same age as my grandmother) so it's entirely possible that they're dead. I would love, though, to go to Sweden one day and do some looking around.
  7. Clerk Typist

    Clerk Typist Guest

    Our family had an aunt that was into this as early as the late 1960s, when nobody was doing it, and well before it was close to easy. She complied a 200-plus page family tree that took things back over 300 years. It was absolutely amazing. Proved we were related to Winston Churchill, among other people, so she named it "The Churchill Family in America."
  8. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    Been doing some research over the course of a few years. Basically a lot of tedious work on Ancestry.com. I have a lot of the basics of the GGP down, but after that it dead ends in Europe. Eastern Europe. Hooray for having no roots in the USA before the 1900s!
  9. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    My father-in-law is hugely into this ... pre-internet, he's taken "vacations" to the backroads of Tennessee searching for tombstones. He's followed some strands of his family tree back to the 1700s, I believe.

    It's interesting when some details about a long-lost ancestor's life can be unearthed, but unless the person had some wealth (and has court records, deeds, etc. at a courthouse), it's tough to fill in much more than birth, marriage and death dates once you get far enough back.

    When my father-in-law worked a two-year stint for his company in The Netherlands in the mid-1990s, he took several trips into Wales and poked around old churches, graveyards, courthouses, etc. I've always joked with him that he really went there to pour down pints and wager with the locals.

    Of course, his "joke" to me is that one day I'll inherit all of his notebooks, records, etc. ... and if I, my wife or her siblings toss it all, he'll haunt us from the grave!

    Seriously, it's an interesting topic, Starman. Good luck in your research.
  10. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    My mother's father was a ninth-generation New Englander on both sides of his family. I've traced one of his lines to the Mayflower and a couple of others all the way back to medieval English royalty and nobility. Turns out the Queen and I are, through a shared descent from Edward I, 23rd cousins, once removed. :)
  11. Turtle Wexler

    Turtle Wexler Member

    I had an aunt on my dad's side and a great aunt on my mom's side who were into the family histories. I've taken all their notes and paperwork and, through the power of the interwebs, advanced it so much farther than they could have.

    Probably the best thing I discovered: I come from a long line of journalists. My great-grandfather worked at the NYT; my great-great-grandfather worked at the Altoona Mirror; and my great-great-great-grandfather was one of the first editors of the Altoona Tribune. It really is in the blood!
  12. ColdCat

    ColdCat Well-Known Member

    my dad was big into genealogy for years. He found a juror in the Salem Witch Trials, Ethan Allen's regimental doctor and one of the founders of the National League. Also found out one of my friend from high school is actually my third cousin.
    He spent a lot of time in libraries going over census reports and marriage and birth announcements in old newspapers. He wanted to take a trip to Salt Lake City to go through the LDS library which seems to have everything on genealogy.
    The interesting thing is on my mom's side. Great x6 grandpa and his brother were from Germany and maybe, kinda sorta, probably started the revolution of 1848. After his brother was killed in Holland, he fled for Michigan where he started a trading company, founded a small town and eventually met and married a young woman who was also a recent immigrant from Germany. . .where her family was minor nobility and squarely on the other side of the revolution.
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