Sunday, May 8, 2011
Mother’s Day: An Appropriate Launch for a Family Blog
When it comes to family history, I can’t remember ever not wanting to know. I think it a fair excuse for obsession over genealogy to claim I was born wanting to know.
Though I certainly didn’t get any satisfaction from answers to my first questions, credit me with persistence.
My dad’s first answer: “Aaaah, you don’t wanna know that.”
My mom’s first answer: “....... .”
OK, next attempt: research at library. I think I had been reading for about three years when I checked out my first genealogy book. I had to cross the hall to find it in the adult section. The children’s librarian stuck mainly to fairy tales, and I had already read most of those.
Through most of high school and college, I set the dream on the shelf and tried to study practical things—you know, those things that will get you a real job.
I can remember the awe-inspiring moment when I first learned that I could get a microfilm on loan with—oh, happy day!—census records. Pure bliss.
From that point on, old libraries were my friend. There was nothing to compare with the dusty feel of ancient catalogs, the unmistakable smell of past ages in print. Yet, for years I felt as if I were enjoying the journey without ever attaining the thrill of the catch. Searching for my family name in records was the Irish equivalent of seeking Smith.
...until I learned that my surname was not Irish, after all. Some of my father’s reticence in revealing his roots started to unravel as other relatives began to disclose snippets of long-forgotten memories. Secrets of people long gone still left telltale signs. The chase became more tantalizing.
I fell to temptation and branched out to research other lines when progress on my own father’s line faltered. Though laughable in retrospect, I remember those first interviews with relatives. Most were certain their grandparents were the ones “fresh off the boat.” Most were proven wrong as I moved back through time, generation to generation, still here, sometimes, even in colonial America.
Sometime in the early 1990s, I discovered online resources for genealogy. New vistas opened—and keep beckoning. I’ve now amassed a database of family members far and wide that extends to over 12,000 names. Now that’s a family!
Along the way in this journey, there have been so many who have helped make the connections and further the research, that I want to give back in some sort of way. Oh, I’ve volunteered and helped others, too, but it occurred to me that maybe others in my very-extended family might want a way to check up on my progress on their part of the family. Not just the names and dates—those are so dull and grey. There needs to be a way to share the story of the journey, the ups and downs of the chase, the wonderment of the new discovery.
And to discuss it with others on the same path.
For this reason, I’m starting this blog. Welcome to my journey. Whether it’s yours, too, or not, I’m pleased to have you as a traveling companion.