Up a Tree, Without a Paddle
It occurred to me earlier this year that I was turning another year older and I still didn’t really know what I am. That’s right, what, not who. I know very well who I am; I just want to know more about my heritage. I made a little family tree when I was in middle school, but I only had to include three generations, so I really didn’t learn more than I had already known. The urge to create a more detailed tree has been in a distant portion of my mind for a while. When one of the guys on my team at work started researching a month earlier (within a couple of hours he had traced back to the mid fifteen hundreds) I decided it was time for me to pursue my own research.
The whole idea of an online data base specifically for researching ancestry is pretty nifty, I think. A task that may have one time taken me years of research through hundreds of books and public records, now could take hours just sitting at my laptop. Not only did the website he use have access to public records but it also shares other members’ family trees if theirs matches the one I’m building. It saves a lot of research time that way.
So I went out on a limb, registered on a website that specializes in family trees, and found myself immediately rooted to my seat. You like that? Were my ancestors from England? Scotland? Ooo, maybe Corellia? I didn’t need to know. I just find history very interesting. I also wanted to make sure my family tree has as many branches as it should. Being from Delaware could mean the tree doesn’t expand very much. I’m not saying that Delawareans have aunts who are also their moms, but there is a misconception that because the state is very, um… rural, one’s tree could look more like a phone pole.
After I registered, I started my free trial. I just entered my name, and my parents’ names, and waited for something miraculous to happen. I thought other names would automatically populate, but no, nothing.
Where were all of the little hints that were supposed to pop up as advertised? Okay, so I kept going and input my grandparents. I didn’t know who their parents were, so I started searching the online records. I found a census and then a big surprise… a picture of my grandfather when he was in the Air Force. Now that was special and quite encouraging. I found my other grandfather’s draft registration card as well. Very cool!
Along the way, the website finally did alert me of possible matches for the genealogy I had already established. The problem with this, however, is that half of the names provided to me are not correct. I have to further investigate every clue, and the difference between a person who is truly a family member and one who is not can be as little as the wrong middle initial. If I choose one person who is not of my same bloodline, I can be led in the completely wrong direction. I don’t want to think that I can be traced back to England when I could really be traced back to Native Americans. Everyone knows that Native Americans are more bad-ass than the English. I’m just sayin’. I really like Sting though, so it would be okay if I could trace my ancestry back to the Sumners – Sting trumps tepees. Though tepees are cool, so are wigwams. Having a family member born in one would be pretty intense, or should i say in tents? Yes, I think I should.
So this will be an ongoing little hobby of mine. I have only managed to go back as far as the mid 1800s. Everyone I have found so far is from Maryland or Delaware. It does sound completely boring, I know, but it’s still somewhat interesting. If I find anything extremely awesome, I’ll let all of you know. Who knows, maybe I’ll find ancestors as far away as Virginia! Oooo… Crazy!