Saturday, February 23, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- How Did You Get Started in Genealogy Research?

Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 

 It's Saturday Night again - 

time for some more Genealogy Fun!!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible music!), is to:

1)  Jacqi Stevens recently suggested, in her blog post "The Networks of Life," the question "How did you get started in researching your genealogy?"

2)  This week, let's tell our "getting started in genealogy research" story.

3)  Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a comment on this blog post to lead us to your answers.

Here's mine:

Unlike many researchers, I did not read the book Roots by Alex Haley, or watch the 1976 TV series, until about 1987.  I was impressed, and was looking for another "hobby" since my then-current hobby was boring me.  I figured, "well, this shouldn't take too long, because Aunt Marion already provided it several years ago."  Aunt Marion was my father's oldest sister, and had been a schoolteacher, and as a class project had extracted family information from a printed town history book on the Seaver family.  

As many of you know, my father came from Massachusetts in 1940 to San Diego, and his mother and siblings and nieces and nephews were still "back east"in the 1950s.  Finally, his mother (my grandmother) and his sister Evelyn, her husband and her granddaughter came to visit us in 1959.  This was the only time I met my grandmother.  Letters and cards went back and forth over the years.  My dad's brother and two other sisters came in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and several nieces came while in college and stayed with my parents.  We enjoyed every visit and we always talked about the Seaver and Richmond family, but never wrote anything down.  I visited Leominster, Mass. several times in the late 1960s on business, and was able to meet my aunts, uncles and cousins, who all told me family stories, especially about my father.

In 1982, Linda and I, with our girls, took a New England vacation, flying to Boston, and staying with Uncle Ed in Leominster, seeing all of the local cousins, and then spent a week in Maine with my Aunt Gerry and her husband on Lake Cobbosecontee.  That was a really fun time, and we talked more about the family.  I brought my tape recorded along and made audio tapes with Uncle Ed and Aunt Ruth.  My father suddenly died in May 1983, and I realized that I had not talked much with him about his life.  Aunt Marion came to visit twice in the early 1980s, and I made an audio tape with her about the family.  

After I read Roots, in early 1988 I decided that I should really work on the family history, so I wrote letters to the family asking for records and stories, and then we took several more vacations to New England.  In 1989, Aunt Gerry made four hour long tapes of her life story and all of the family stories she knew, and analyzed the family members - she did a wonderful job in her New England accent.  

I started going to the local libraries, and the local LDS Family History Center in San Diego, and quickly traced most of my ancestry back to the 1600s, including the Pilgrim ancestry of my grandmother.  The family ate that up.  In 1989, I started a Christmas newsletter with family stories, family photos, research summaries, and family news.  That started with six typed pages, but ended up being 16 pages over the 25 years.  In 1990, the family celebrated Uncle Ed and Aunt Janet's 50th wedding anniversary and my brother Scott and I attended that in Leominster, and had a lot of fun.  We went to New England five times in the 1990s, and I did a lot of onsite research, found the cemetery stones and the ancestral homes, etc.

Of course, I worked on my mother's ancestry also, and then my wife's, and then the trees of my sons-in-law, then all the Seaver, Carringer, Auble, Vaux and other family lines I can find.  

So, like Topsy, the family tree sprouted sturdy branches and grew lots of leaves, and after 31 years I now have a tree with 53,000 entries and a wealth of family stories, plus a genealogy cave chock full of paper, a computer filled with records and photos and stories, and many memories of family met and enjoyed. 

What a fun hobby er, obsession!!  Endless mysteries!  Lots of records!  A blog!  E-books!  Online trees!  I'm not done!!!

I blame Alex Haley and Aunt Gerry!  Thank you, both!

Thank you to Jacqi Stevens for the SNGF idea.


Copyright (c) 2019, Randall J. Seaver

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Unknown said...

Visiting the Truman Library in '85 with my grandmother & her sister when grandma said "My brother Bob's picture is in the library". I did NOT know they had a brother. Turns out he was with Capt. Harry S. Truman WWI company. "He is the short Irish guy on the right". Grandma had 5 siblings in the family and I figured I'd better write it all down. Jerry

Janice M. Sellers said...

Here's mine (with no Roots influence whatsoever):

Seeds to Tree said...

Here's my post about how I got started in genealogy. I hope others add to this, I find it fascinating. Jacquie

Linda Stufflebean said...

Here's my post. I love reading how everyone began:

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Got a late start today due to be away from home yesterday.

Janice Harshbarger said...

I was looking for a project to take up 6 weekends before I was committed to starting something else. Husband had been given a Family Tree Maker Program that he had no intentions of using. I thought, "How long can this take? Everything is on line now!" That was almost 13 years ago, but time flies when you're having fun!