Saturday, September 17, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Started You Actively Researching Your Family History?

Randy Seaver announced that the topic for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun was suggested to him by Jacquie Schattner:

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

What was the "trigger" that started you actively researching your family history and genealogy?

(2)  Tell us about it in a comment on this blog post, in a blog post of your own, or in a Facebook post.

My interest in family history started when I was very young.  My mother and grandmother were always discussing family members:  birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, visits, normal everyday events, whatever.  I grew up knowing the names of many of my collateral relatives, along with the names of their chidlren, when their birthdays and anniversaries were, where they lived.  I met several of these relatives, but the others already felt like family because I knew so much about them.

What actually got me hooked on actively researching was a junior-high-school assignment when I was 13 years old, in 1975.  We were given a purple mimeographed piece of paper with a family tree and told to research our families back four generations, to our great-great-grandparents.  I still have that family tree.  (It's packed in a box somewhere right now, otherwise I'd scan it and share it with everyone.)

I interviewed all the family members who lived in the area (this was when I lived in Niceville, Florida) and wrote down everything they could remember about the family.  I talked to my father, mother, aunt, and grandfather.  I learned names and other pieces of information, such as that one ancestor was exceptionally tall and that a collateral relative had committed suicide.  I still have all those notes, too.  I wrote to my grandmother who lived in Minnesota.  I have her letters responding to my questions.  She told me what she knew about her mother's family in England and the names of her mother's brothers and sisters.

At the time, I am pretty sure I was able to fill out all my great-great-grandparents on my mother's side of the family.  I think I had all the names from my paternal grandmother's family.  I had my paternal grandfather's parents' names, but not their parents.

Over the years I contacted various relatives with questions about family history.  Whenever I travelled, I tried to find relatives in the area I could meet.  I shared information with everyone.

Of course, not all of the information I was told at the beginning was completely accurate.  For example, I did a lot of research on the Sellers line, taking it back to 1615 in Germany, before discovering recently through DNA that my grandfather's biological father was not a Sellers after all.  And so my family tree, kept in a computer program nowadays, of course, is updated when I learn new facts or correct old ones.  But I'm still plugging along, 41 years after I started.


  1. I think it is really cool that you have enjoyed family history for such a large portion of your life. And I enjoyed reading about your genealogy journey.

    1. Thank you, Mary. I consider myself very fortunate to have become interested in genealogy young enough that I had so many living relatives to ask questions of. And the journey has been enjoyable for me also.


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