I think you have to reach a certain age to become interested in genealogy. I don’t see a lot of really young people tracing family trees. I know when I was younger, even though I loved history, I was simply too busy to even think, let alone care about my personal history. But now, at my “advanced” age, I have become immersed in my family line and I sometimes can’t believe this genealogy stuff didn’t fascinate me sooner.
It’s a combination of learning where I came from, what my ancestors went through in their lives, and how their lives intersected with history. Oh, and let’s not forget uncovering surprises and solving mysteries! Why didn’t anyone think to mention that my great-great-grandmother died as a result of being injured during a tornado? Or that my great-grandfather was named after James Arthur Garfield? It’s amazing what you can discover once you go digging around.
Stories are important, and if you have older relatives still living, I highly recommend you sit them down and get them to talk to you about their parents and grandparents. I recently did this with my great-aunt Connie. I found out that my great-grandmother (Connie’s mother) had a brother who was murdered. News to me! I asked Aunt Connie about Seth, and she told me all the stories she knew about his death. She also told me that when my great-great-grandmother died (Seth’s mother), she insisted that his rifle be buried with her. I guess the family always wondered where Seth’s gun went, and Connie never told until we sat down together. I’m so glad I got those stories from her.
If you’re interested in researching your own family history, but aren’t sure where to start, we can help. Pamela Johnson, who works at McClintic Library, is far and away the best genealogist around. She is more than willing to help anyone get started on a family tree. The libraries subscribe to Ancestry.com, and library patrons can have free access to the website. You are able to search census records, immigration records, birth, marriage and death records— everything you need to put together your own family history.
If you’ve been wondering about the Ancestry DNA tests that are available, I had my DNA tested, and it’s available to view on our library Ancestry account. You can see the type of information you will receive; maybe it will help you decide if you want to give it a try. I thought it was very interesting. Who knew I was only five percent Irish?
I’ve been toying with the idea of having Pam teach a genealogy class. If you would like to take a basic class in how to navigate Ancestry, how to create a family tree, and have a tour of the Heritage Room at McClintic, please send me an email at director@pocahon taslibrary.org
If we have enough interest, we’ll do a class, or perhaps set up appointments for people to work one-on-one with Pam.