Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Childhood Interest in Family and Genealogy

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 

 It's Saturday Night again - 
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

When you reflect back as a child, do you now see things that you did then, that show your interest in knowing extended family and/or your future interest in genealogy?

2)  Share your response in a comment on this blog post, in your own blog post (and provide a link in a comment on this post), or on Facebook or Google+.

My thanks to Jacquie Schattner for providing this challenge via email.

Here's mine:

My childhood was essentially without extended family, with one exception.  I had maternal grandparents in my life almost daily, since they lived next door, but I had no aunts and uncles.  I had a paternal grandmother in Massachusetts and had six aunts and uncles, and a bunch of cousins, in New England.  However, the only contact was a Christmas card and gifts from one or two of them.  I finally got to meet my paternal grandmother, an aunt and uncle, and a cousin when I was 14 years old in 1958.  

The exception:  There was one extended family in San Diego, my father's aunt, Emily (Richmond) Taylor, and her daughter (my father's first cousin), Dorothy, and her husband Chuck (Marshall Chamberlain), and their daughter, Marcia Chamberlain (my second cousin).  We usually saw them only at Christmas time and had dinner at their home in San Diego from 1950 to about 1970.  This was always an interesting event for we three boys - the food was gourmet, Dorothy was a bit strange, a great house and yard for hide and seek, and Chuck had National Geographic magazines that I loved looking through (for the articles and maps, of course!).

So I was intrigued by the cousins and aunts and uncles in Massachusetts, and wanted to meet them.  That really didn't happen until 1966 when I had a vacation trip to Boston and met many of them, but my grandmother had died by then.  After that, the aunts and uncles started visiting us in San Diego on vacation, and several of my cousins came to study and work in San Diego for a year or two.  

I never made a rudimentary family tree or write down vital events because I didn't have to - I knew who my local relatives were.  

I have always been a collector of something.  As a child, it was stamps, and coins, and bottle caps, and baseball cards, and maps.  As a teenager and a young man, it was radio station surveys and then logging distant radio stations on my radio in the dead of night, trying to hear the distant stations in between the stations.  I had a strong research interest and analytical bent, and applied it to my aerospace engineering profession, and to my radio listening hobby, and finally to my genealogy and family history addiction after 1988.

So my answer is "some" interest in family, but "none" in genealogy until I was age 45.


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Ed Hamilton said...

I'm not sure it shows evidence of a future interest in genealogy, but I remember my mother getting my sister and me to memorize where her father and mother came from in Ireland, including the townlands: Ballintur, Killowen, and Ballymadeerfy, Lisnacree, County Down, Ireland.

I also remember being bored on more than one rainy day and having my mother say "why don't you and your sister get that family Bible down from the attic and see if you can figure out who those people were." The Bible was from my father's great grandparents, Henry Kiel and Sarah Kern.

All of which was very helpful later when I started researching the family, at age 50 or so.

Ed H

Shirley Ann Rankin said...

Hi Randy,
My dad was born in Missouri and my mom was born in Pennsylvania. They both lived in San Mateo County as teens. I knew all my cousins, aunts, uncles, one grandmother and one grandfather, and one great-grandmother. Beyond that, no one knew anything about the older generations. I was 47 when I started researching. That was when we got internet at home and there were sites like Rootsweb. There wasn't much online but I started connecting with cousins I didn't know I had! I also started going to the FHC any chance I could get and ordering microfilms. My first big discovery was finding my Welsh gr-gr-gr-grandparents coming to America on the ship Campania. I've traced my family back to New England in 1637, and to Maryland in 1634.

Mary Rohrer Dexter said...

Here is mine

Mary Rohrer Dexter said...

Ed - I could not get your blog to add to my newsfeed on blogger to follow it. Cool that you know of your Irish Heritage. The ancestors that I have that came from Ireland most likely came to Ireland from Scotland first. Except for my Sullivan line.

Shirley - Rootsweb was fun wasn't it. I miss it. The early 1600s is quite a ways back. Are you comfortable with the connections you have back that far as far as source documents?

Janet Iles said...

I have written a blog posting at

Seeds to Tree said...

I was fortunate to have three grandparents live long lives. My husband who only remembered one grandparent as a child was shocked when he met me and I had three grandparents still living. I spent many summer with my mother's parents, sometimes for several weeks at a time so I really felt I knew them well. My father's mother lived until she was 99. She and my Dad immigrated here, and she really wanted her grandkids to know their culture. She had us writing relatives in Belgium and Luxembourg and took us each over-seas to meet them. When I was 12, I spent 6 weeks with her visiting many relatives. All this made it easier for me to get started.

However, I believe I was always drawn to genealogy, even though I obiviously didn't know it. As a child, I remember whenever I was bored, or when I was in a room of older people, I'd ask them to tell me a story about when they were a little boy or girl. At bedtime, I remember asking that same question. Having these grandparents available to tell me these stories, to me, was the hint of my hobby (or obsession) when I became an adult.

Janice M. Sellers said...

I know I'm an anomaly, because I started my research when I was 13, and I already knew a fair amount at that time.

Nancy Ward Remling said...

Here is mine:

Janice, I also started my genealogy rather young- at age 15.