How do you take the first step on a journey that started long ago?
I hope to create a blog that will be unique from the many others that are available, mainly by presenting my genealogy from a different perspective: the last leaf on this branch. I am the last in my family on our branch; sadly not by choice but by Divine Design. My love of history began long ago, as a little girl, when I used to play with my grandmother’s sewing materials. (Note: all my grandparents were born in or before 1900) I spent hours tinkering with them, wondering who else had used them, and what beautiful things had been made with them. And as I grew up, I listened intently to the fascinating, albeit short, stories of my family’s ancestors. They were for the most part closely held and not boldly told but rather shared in quiet moments when my mother was with her sisters.
So it was, in 1990, when my grandmother died at 97, that I began to ask my mother more questions about our family. What did she know? What records did she have? Who were we? So many questions without concrete answers. My mother told me that my grandmother had mentioned on many occasions that we were descendants of an American Patriot: that we were eligible to be members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She also told me that we were related to William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.
As a busy young professional, I found it difficult to find the time to go to the Library to do any in depth research. So it wasn’t until 1996, when I bought my first home computer for work, that I began my genealogical odyssey. Of course anyone who’s done any kind of genealogical research understands what I’m talking about. Genealogy is an addiction. It gets in your blood, and takes over your life. Fortunately, I was beginning my research at the same time that websites like Cyndi’s List and RootsWeb (before they got swallowed up by Ancestry.com) were just getting their feet wet. I could look up phone numbers across the country on the computer far more quickly than looking them up in the Library. And I began to find out just how inaccurate oral history, for good or bad, can be.
Suffice it to say that, today, I’m still researching my own family roots. However, between that time and now, I discovered that I would be the last in my family. So why should I care about our genealogical roots? Who’s going to care about my great Aunt Stella? Who’s going to care about me? There have probably been a dozen times in my research that I’ve hit walls where I was unable to go further, simply because someone decided it wasn’t important to keep family records. Or maybe they didn’t want people to know about their family history (yes, there’s some of that on every tree). I guess I’d like to think that if my own tree won’t continue to grow, perhaps I can help someone grow their own; that by helping people to understand their family histories I’ll be contributing to human history in my own way.
As I take my first steps at taking genealogy from a hobby to a career, I truly hope you’ll join me on this journey…