View Full Version : Genealogy - anybody else into it?


spunkysmum
02-27-15, 06:36 PM
I started getting into it a couple months ago in typical ADHD fashion - I was doing something else - trying to figure out for my boyfriend which of the people on his Facebook list were his relatives, or, how they were related to him (which uncle and aunt did they come from, etc. Sounds strange that he wouldn't know that I guess but his dad is the youngest of 16 kids, so that leaves a lot of cousins many of whom are old enough to be his parents, and aunts and uncles that he never knew.)

Well, my idea was to look up obituaries for aunt and uncles who had passed and then look in the "survived by" section to see who their children were, what their last names might be, etc. to determine how the various cousins on his Facebook are related to him.

One google search led me to an archived file about a grisly murder in the 1940s where an unemployed husband stabbed his younger wife to death in front of the children (at least, the children were on the scene and crying when the police came. I scratched my head, wondering why the heck I had ended up at that site when I realized that the murder victim was the older sister of my boyfriend's dad, i.e. she was my boyfriend's aunt. He had never told me that story. I wondered what had happened to the children so I went looking for info on them and ended up at Ancestry.com, where I signed up for a trial account using the email addy I created for him. From then on I have been really into it.

I started working on my own tree as well but have not done as much work on it, partly because I can't afford to subscribe to the international version and half my family is from Canada, so I would be limited in my progress. But I have really gotten into tracing his family, and every once in a while a relative or ancestor that is famous or a historical figure pops up, which keeps me interested. The first was the 3rd governor of Nebraska, Silas Garber, whose wife was the model for the main character in one of Willa Cather's novels, and he and his wife were close friends of Cather. Then I discovered that his great great great great great uncle was a famous Indian chief, John Cornplanter. Last week I discovered that Theodore Roosevelt is his 6th cousin 4x removed, and Eleanor Roosevelt a distant cousin as well. A couple hours ago I was adding a 3rd cousin 4x removed from genealogical paper online ( I had to cancel the ancestry subscription for now so have to do more of the grunt work myself) and noticed that they married a Frederick A O Schwarz - did some checking and sure enough, it was an FAO Schwarz from THAT family - the grandson of the toy store founder.

It's all so interesting. It makes the world seem small and really fosters a sense of connectedness with other people.

hypergirl96
03-01-15, 01:11 AM
My one Uncle is super into it. He's endeavoring to make a family tree of my mom's entire family. He already has over two thousand and he hasn't even started on my great, great grandfather's side of the family! (who had twenty one children, by the way)

stef
03-01-15, 03:19 AM
I would love to find out more about all of this!
My grandfather's cousin came to my moms funeral, we had never met him, he had been meaning to contact us! gave me prints of my great grandparents wedding and of all 9 of my great aunts and uncles when they were in their 40īs. my mom looked exactly like one of her aunts! hence the great mystery solved of why my grandpa always called my mom " Gertude." I also know the name of the little town in Germany where my great grandfather was born.

all of my grandparents were born in the states but their parents were immigrants, iearned Enfglish at school - I think they all wanted to assimilate and succeed so they didnt pass on much to my parents....

namazu
03-01-15, 09:02 AM
I got so into it for a while that I had to ban myself from doing it because it was eating up time that should have been spent sleeping / doing work / etc.! I think the puzzle-solving part of it was kind of like gambling (really) in terms of getting a hit off of it.

My first foray into it was for some school project, and I was going off what my grandparents had told me. That was before the web was a thing, and genealogic research involved trekking to a major library and sifting through microfilm/microfiche (I can't keep those straight). That was super-tedious and didn't get me very far and I didn't follow up in any serious way for many years.

But now that more and more record archives and books have been digitized, I've been surprised as how much I was able to dredge up. Really surprised, as my family were mostly peasants of an ethnic/religious minority who moved around a lot and went through several name-changes over time. But I've been able to find records -- sometimes in different languages, often free to the public -- that go much further back than I'd ever imagined existed.

Definitely no royalty in my family, but many interesting characters and even a few famous people whose names I won't mention here for fear of outing myself. But I'm not in it for the royalty or Revolutionary War heroes -- that was a non-starter.

I've been truly fascinated by what I can glean of the daily lives of my ancestors, the sheer improbability of my own existence, and the discovery of far-flung relatives on 6 continents (historic and living) and their stories.

spunkysmum
03-01-15, 10:24 PM
My one Uncle is super into it. He's endeavoring to make a family tree of my mom's entire family. He already has over two thousand and he hasn't even started on my great, great grandfather's side of the family! (who had twenty one children, by the way)

The way Ancestry.com has it set up it's almost like a game of Minesweeper where branches of the tree can kind of explode out as you add the info, and you can use the info other people have put into their public trees to build your own. I started to notice though that other people's info can be faulty - and in ways they should have caught, like listing the parents of somebody born in 1642 as being people who were born in 1813, which clearly can't be right.

Oddly, though it is definitely slower going, working on it while not having access now to the features that paying Ancestry customers do almost has made it more engrossing, not less, because it has me back to doing more of the detective type work that stimulates me, using Google and my wits to track people down. It also makes me have to look more closely at the info to make sure it adds up instead of just adding any hint info assuming it to be correct when it may not be.

namazu
03-01-15, 10:35 PM
Oddly, though it is definitely slower going, working on it while not having access now to the features that paying Ancestry customers do almost has made it more engrossing, not less, because it has me back to doing more of the detective type work that stimulates me, using Google and my wits to track people down.
Yeah. That's one of the real draws for me, too -- the sleuthing aspect of it.

I don't know whether you're going more deep or wide (or both) in terms of tracing family, and you probably know this already, but old newspaper archives are great for this, and many public libraries will give you access. Obituaries, wedding announcements, someone who got busted for operating a saloon during Prohibition... ;) Adds a lot of color commentary and also can help you make connections you might not otherwise have been able to figure out. (This works better with less-common names, obviously, since otherwise you just get a flood of records for people who aren't related.)

spunkysmum
03-01-15, 10:36 PM
I got so into it for a while that I had to ban myself from doing it because it was eating up time that should have been spent sleeping / doing work / etc.! I think the puzzle-solving part of it was kind of like gambling (really) in terms of getting a hit off of it.

I can relate to that. There have been a couple weeks where I beat myself up for not having gotten anything done, and then I think about it again and realize that I'm selling myself short, because it isn't the same as if I'd spent all day playing a Facebook puzzle game or stubbornly trying to beat the same round of Spider Solitaire that has managed to stump me for a while (which I have totally been known to do.) Even if there's something else I should better have been doing, at least I've something to show for it and something for somebody else at that, since it's my boyfriend's family's tree I've been putting together. I've been sharing some of the more interesting highlights on his Facebook page to the intrigue of his relatives, many of whom he's been out of touch with for some time.