Sunday, November 3, 2013
Searching for Roots
A couple of months ago I started researching David's (my husband) family tree and now I'm a little obsessed. I've been working primarily with Ancestry.com, but so far I haven't gotten the paid subscription. Everything I've done has been free. Rather than use their sources, once I hit a dead end I've been relying on Google to find more information. I plan to pay for the subscription once I have all the members in place in order to delve into specifics, such as military information, education, etc.
My husbands family, both immediate and distant is huge! I've been working on his paternal grandmother's family for weeks - these people had a ton of children! They also have some very good genealogists among them, there is a ton of information for a lot of them.
A treasure trove of information has been a free site called Find-a-Grave! Not only do you get basic information about the person, it often includes family members, obituaries and even pictures. Most of the time when it lists family members of the deceased, they include links for them which leads to their own page with a lot of information. If you hit on someone who had 10 children and start clicking on links, it's like falling down Alice's rabbit hole - you can be there for days! I found an entire cemetery filled with members of the family - lots and lots of link-clicking there.
A decision we've needed to make - I'm working on this with my mother-in-law - is how much, or who, to include. Do we want to know a great-great-great uncle's wife's father's family information? For now I'm trying to limit it to "blood relatives", only including spouses, not the spouse's family. So far I have 473 people, many with photographs, dating as far back as David's Great x8 Grandfather born in England in 1625. He was the first one I've been able to find so far that came from Europe. Isn't that exciting!
It's like I'm a detective, piecing hints together to uncover a huge story. It's not just names and dates, in the obituaries you learn about these distant relatives - military histories, travel, family tragedies, professional successes. For example, one of David's great-uncles worked for the US military with weapon-disabling robotics in 1940, his title was Military Engineer, but it turns out he didn't get his GED until he retired at the age of 68! We learned of two brothers who died in a house fire in their late teens - David's father was named after both of them. There's all sorts of interesting tidbits. I'm having a blast.
Sadly, it won't be as easy to uncover my family tree. Since I'm a first generation American, the vast majority of my family tree information would be found, if it even still exists, in Cuba and Spain - a lot more difficult to trace without actually traveling there.
Well...time to go back to the Interwebs to discover more relatives. Who knows what story I'll uncover next?