Saturday, January 29, 2022

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What First Sparked Your Interest in Family History?

 Calling all Genea-Musings Fans:

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

 Your mission, should you decide to accept it (and I hope more of you do than participated in the last several SNGF challenges), is to:

1)  Daniel Loftus and several other genealogists on Twitter (see genealogists to share what first sparked their interest in family history.  What was yours?

2)  Post your responses on your own blog, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status post, or on Twitter using the #MyGenealogyStory hashtag).  Be sure to comment and leave a link to your post on this post.

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 [some of which I later determined was wrong].  

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 paternal 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 to San Diego 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 most of my aunts, uncles and cousins, who all told me family stories, especially about my father (ah yes, "the golden glow").

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 we spent a week in Maine with my Aunt Gerry and her husband in their cabin on Lake Cobbosecontee.  That was a really fun time, and we talked more about the family.  I brought my tape recorder 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 beautiful 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 most of the next 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.  Linda and I 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 34 years I now have a tree with 68,000 profiles 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!


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Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Here is mine:

GeneGinny said...

My maternal grandmother helped another relative research a book on our Boone family in the early 1960s. They lived in Missouri and wanted information from the Pennsylvania Archives. My family lived in State College, PA, so I spent many, many hours in the Pattee Library on the Penn State campus digging through the published early Pennsylvania records for my them.
At about the same time I was assigned a family history project in an 11th grade class and asked my Dad for information on his family. He had left home at age 17 and never looked back. The information he provided was extremely sparse and, as it turned out, almost totally inaccurate. But it got me interested in finding the truth.

ByAPearl said...

This is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Liz said...

Here's mine:

Lateboomer said...

I have been interested in my family's history for as long as I can remember. My maternal grandmother (b. 1892 in London, England) lived with us the last few years of her life, from my age nine until I was nearly fifteen. We shared a room, and although she snored unbearably she was the purveyor of Kraft caramels and Taveners drops (fruit pastilles), kept in her dresser drawer and shared willingly with me, along with oft-repeated late night stories about the old country, her family and various memories. Grannie's earliest memory was that of meeting Queen Victoria. She and her sister Caroline were dressed in royal blue velvet dresses with capes trimmed in white ermine fur, and that was an exciting time for her. Gran's first husband left her a very young widow during the early years of WWI. That war also took her younger brother George, and injured my grandfather, her second husband who was a soldier in the same battalion as her first husband, and Gran's daughter Freda born to her first marriage died from rheumatic fever at the age of 12. She had lots of stories, as did both of my parents.

My father and mother were also collectors of their family history, and I would spend many hours looking at bits and pieces, souvenirs, photos, ephemera - all with stories attached, colourfully told and re-told as years went by. Decades later I found an essay I wrote comprised of two interviews with each parent about their lives and their family history (how they came to Canada) at my age 10 that they had saved and I rediscovered.

In 1995, my father got a letter out of the blue from a cousin in England who had worked their family tree back to 1610 the hard way over several decades of traipsing from record offices to church archives. Dad was fascinated and they struck up a correspondence, and I willingly typed up all of his letters to Pamela after he wrote them out by hand. (I still have these handwritten rough copies to this day). When my parents passed away I inherited the lion's share of what they kept and memories held dear, and with the advent of Ancestry began the task of putting all of the information online and in the process over the years uncovering some previously unknown family secrets thanks to DNA matches.

Linda Stufflebean said...

Here's mine, not spurred on by Roots either:

Janet Keating McNaughton said...

My interest in family history was originally sparked by the birth of my son in 1885. I am an oldest child, my husband is an oldest child, and now we were starting our family with an oldest child. What was it like for our parents and our grandparents? My actual research started in the mid 1990's. Since then my interest has ebbed and flowed and is now renewed with the birth of my second grandson. The tree grows.

Teresa said...

Here's mine: