For many people they see genealogy as a collection of names, dates and places in little boxes or on connecting lines. Rather boring and really not very telling is it?
To those who start the journey I say look forward to opening a new world full of unique stories and some amazing adventures (some armchair, others in person) as you look into life as your ancestors lived it. You will discover and solve mysteries from the past and even in the experience of those unfortunate brick walls, when it seems there is no further information to be found, you will challenge yourself to rethink the past in order to continue your quest. Patience really is a virtue in this endeavor, for even those shaky little green leaves are only clues until the proving is done.
It begins with unearthing those tidbits of information that start with family, friends and even neighbors and then on to looking in places such as attics, basements, storage units, archives, court houses, libraries, societies, and more, looking in boxes, file cabinets, safes, desk drawers, etc for journals, bibles, records of registrations and certificates of birth, baptism, marriage, divorce, adoption, guardianship and death, passports, political, religious applications & affiliations, bank & insurance records, military & service records, census, indexes, gazetteer, maps, deeds, tax lists, photos, directories, newspapers, obituaries, funeral homes & cemeteries and so many others too numerous to mention. (whew, I can breathe)
These sources give us clues that can answer our questions or lead to a new discovery and make us want to do the “Snoopy Dance” . Those are the moments where we feel our ancestors with us and we as we begin to piece together their lives and begin to listen to their stories, we can understand them and ourselves better.
An example would be my 4th great-grandparents, Michael Neilson, whom I knew very little of beyond his name and his wife’s first name Margaret. Through determined searching I was able to piece together his marriage, found a portrait of Margaret and her family, found his business and bankruptcy as a tea merchant in Glasgow, Scotland and fraud charges in Australia and other information.
All because I found one document with a new surname and location which opened up a whole new line and with patience and due diligence in my research, I have proved and added another three generations back, and found that this family had a descendant line that came to Virginia and settled about 45 mins away from where I live! All this time, I said I have no family in Virginia. I have learned more about my Scots heritage, the life in Glasgow during the 18th and early 19th centuries and have more clues to follow-up on. (Warning, it never ends!)
When we have begun to put together our family tree it looks much more interesting than boxes or lines, instead it is deep and strong with rings of generations and all the gnarly knots of life’s twist and turns becomes that which gives us a foundation upon which to grow the next generation, Each time we discover and remember the generations before we are giving support and life to the very roots of where we came from, the good, the bad and even the ugly stories are all a part of who we are.
Generation unto generation should honor these individuals by remembering the best and recording the rest.
So I say get your feet wet, start to ask the questions and if you want to learn more but find you do not have the time or inclination to get into the details of the search, contact me. I can help!