It’s all my mother’s fault. Really!
She got the genealogy bug when I started college. I don’t know what prompted her to start, but before I knew it, she had letters to family members familiar and obscure flying all over the country. First envelopes, then boxes were used to store the information she had. She visited spots where the family had lived, and found cousins at some reunions she went to. The really big pedigree charts were cool as they filled up one generation after another. Mom would tell me about her latest finds, and it was a joy to share that with her, but that was all the interest I had in them. Mom discovered that her maiden name could be traced back in a direct line to the Revolutionary war, so we joined the Daughters of the American Revolution. With a little more work, she found a couple other lines that also became “supplemental” lines. And going a little further back, she found where the line qualified us for the Colonial Dames of the 17th Century. She joined that one, too.
After college, I married, and discovered – to my shock – that no one had ever researched my husband’s family at all. He didn’t know anything beyond his grandparents, and his mom knew only a tiny bit more on her family. Since his name is fairly unique, I figured I’d dig and see what I could find out, and I wouldn’t be duplicating anything my mom had already done.
And so it began, slowly seeping under my skin, until it became a point of pride to be able to find another generation, and another. Digging I discovered a family member who lost a leg in the Civil War. And there once was a town named for his family! One of his ancestors was born in1772 and died in 1852 – living to be 80 was quite a feat in those days! It wasn’t skeletons in the closet we were finding, it was fleshing out the actual living people he descended from. I was hooked.
Eventually, mom decided it was time to let the research go, and I inherited the boxes. By then I was a technophile, with the best home computer equipment I could afford. I was also 40 miles from the nearest town with a library! So began the process of putting the information in the boxes into a more ‘permanent’ collection. With that, I had to find the “right” program, the “right” digital image settings, the “right” way to document the information I had in my hands. A friend of mine calls it, “bulldog determination.” I also turned to the then-limited resources of the Internet to give me clues to follow up on.
Years later, I was to discover what made genealogy such a good ‘fit’ for me – a StrengthsQuest evaluation of my personality showed that Context was one of my top traits. Context is described as looking back to understand the present. Only by looking back at the past can I see the present day and plan for the future. Another was Learner, and oh yes, I do love to learn! Keeping on top of new things and being good at using new tools excites me and keeps me moving forward. One other strength was Input – aka the collector. I collect data, information, objects – and family history. I want the facts about my family, and any family that I work with. If I don’t have the proof, then an analysis of the data is required, and my Focus comes into play, causing me to filter information and whether or not something helps me reach a goal.
Since taking over for my mother, we’ve found even more generations, and many on the female side of the trees. One line goes back to France, another to England, more from Scotland. Many lines were here in time to fight for the American Revolution – on both sides! The DAR and Colonial Dames were just the first of many lineage societies we qualified to join.