Monday, October 18, 2021

Genealogy - Chapter One

I had a few comments and questions on my middle of the night genealogy quest and thought I would share my genealogy journey.  

I have always been interested in genealogy - interested enough to say that but not interested enough to do real research. At one point I was trying to convince one of my children to do some genealogy research as a 4-H project. She completed the project and that was that.  Gosh, if I could go back in time and ask my family questions. 

The tiny library in the little village next door offered a beginners genealogy class on a week night. Diane, who I volunteered with at our county fair,,  also attends my church and caught me on a Sunday and asked me to come. She was trying to drum up numbers and caught the right person. 

I met with the small group in the back room and the four newbies and the genealogy volunteers wrote down what we did know. Our parents information and grandparents information if we knew that. Right away Jodi from the genealogy group and I discovered her husband and I share an ancestor and she was able to fill in that branch my little hand written family tree quickly. The genealogy people exclaimed, "Why you are one of our county's "First Families". 

I went back for the second session and we logged onto the library's laptops. The library has a subscription to Ancestry and I "searched" a few names. Instantly I saw a photograph of my grandmother! A closer look showed us that it was actually a photograph of my 2nd great grandmother, who raised my grandmother. They are a spitting image of each other! At this point we also found out that my other teacher, Diane, and I shared a relative too!

I feel like a cheater in the world of genealogy. My father's side all came over from Germany in the late 1800's. Their large family all settled on farms in one little area and kept in contact with their families in Germany. When I was a little girl, I can remember visiting my dad's family and looking through the two volume genealogy that was already published in the 1970's. The family still meets every summer at the tiny church built when the parents joined the three oldest sons who traveled here and on alternate years the "cousins" travel to Germany to meet with cousins who stayed behind. Then the next year, the German cousins are hosted here in the Bed and Breakfast in one of the originally constructed farmhouses. 

I was close to my maternal grandmother who never talked about her past (she was orphaned by age 9) but we live in a small community and she did gossip. So I did know that her family had been here since the beginning of time. I knew that some of my classmates were grandchildren of her cousins, etc. When a family member passed, there would be conversation about the obituary. Her family was not close so there were no family get togethers or anything, but I was aware of the family. And I guess I was aware of how far back her family ties were to our community (1830's). 

Our county has always kept very good records and as I was starting my genealogy journey, the folks from Family Search were actually at our courthouse copying records.  As I went back to each generation, I would find death records, marriage records, property records. It was pretty easy. 

My grandfather's family was here for about the same length of time. And my friend had already traced them back to New York where some of my ancestors served in the Revolutionary War.  This side of my family is documented in what is now the United States since at least 1710 where we have a marriage record for one of my grandfathers. 

Learning about my ancestors was not a struggle as it is for some. Eventually I succumbed to the DNA offers and joined the website. I had absolutely no surprises, I am related to everyone I knew I was related to for generations and generations and generations.  I did check with my children before testing to make sure no one had privacy concerns. No one did. 

I also talked my husband into DNA testing. His grandparents were all first and second generation to this country. I had over 10,000 matches going back to sixth cousins and beyond.  He has about 300. And looking at them it is pretty easy to figure out where they are on his tiny little tree. No surprises and, unfortunately, no one has searched back any further than the arrival in the United States. 

As you can tell, my favorite part of genealogy is finding family pictures. It really makes people come alive to me and I feel like I have really met them and had conversations with them. I have found out things that they did not know about themselves.  And a lot of secrets.  I just wish that I had developed this interest several decades ago and was able to share with my mother who would have delighted in some of these stories.


  1. Oh, how totally wonderful. These photos and those journeys. I love genealogy but have not done much other than listen... yes, I would wish to go back and document those stories! And ask questions! Do you remember a series about genealogy and famous people? I am stumped about its name but I was glued to the tv.... Who do you think you are? Was that the name?

  2. That was me, Gayla with the rambling comment... I can't sign in tonight... le sigh....

  3. Now that is fascinating. My paternal grandparents also came over from Germany in the late 1800's. I know several generations on that side. None on my mothers though, which is sad.
    When we were in the UK this summer I took a photo of the Black Knight who is my best friends uncle from way back. He's buried in a tomb inside a castle.
    I'm glad you have found so much to interest you in your family ties. It's fun and historical at the same time and who knows? I'm sure some of your future family will really appreciate the work you've done.
    Blessings and hugs,

  4. You have some delightful photos! I enjoyed seeing them. I need to find time to research some more. I wish my husband would take some interest and do his family! Have you been to the Newspaper site? They have a free weekend once in a while. I copied some good family info there. I think it is

  5. What wonderful photos you have of your family and their history. I love the little bit I know about my family. A Cousin has done ours but I don't have much info about it. Good luck and enjoy!

  6. All I can think of to say is, wow! It must be very exciting to look back and see all of your family history. I can't believe how many things you're discovering. It's pretty amazing.

  7. Interesting!!! I do not know much about my Dad's side as it was his parents that immigrated here in the early 1900's ....and my mother did not talk much about her side especially on her Dad's side...She was a second generation American where my Dad was a first generation American....Thanks so much for all you visits and kind words!! I hope you had a great Halloween with all those Grands of yours!!

  8. Miss Merry! Your genealogy blogging is off to a wonderful start. It has been one of the most helpful things I have done with my own research. Congratulations!

  9. I had to come and take a look at this. I just recently began to think of our family and the family tree. Not much was known about my father's is a bit of a mystery but we did trace him to Scotland.
    I often think a DNA test would be pretty interesting as even on my mom's side there isn't much information.

    We don't have photos other than those of my dad at a young age.
    Thanks for making me wonder about my lineage!


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Miss Merry