February 16, 2012

Genealogy Geek

Recently I have been spending quite a bit of time indulging one of my little hobbies--researching and gathering family history.

You all know that I am a full-out history nerd and I realize that history doesn't interest a lot of people the way it fascinates me. But for me, history especially comes alive when it's family history--the history from which I have descended. And the further back in time I can trace family history, the more excited and giddy I become! {again, totally realize what geek I am}.

Eight years or so ago, I interviewed my maternal grandfather to get as much family history recorded from him as he could recall. On my maternal grandmother's side, family members have already compiled a TON of family history, and in reading through the giant binder of our family history, my passion for genealogy was sparked.

From that binder I learned of a book written about my ancestors--four brothers who all fought in the Confederate Army--called "Four Men in Grey." Three of the four brothers died in the war, and all four fought in the most famous battles of the Civil War and served under the most famous Confederate generals. I managed to get ahold of a copy of that book {which turned out to be a manuscript rather than a published book} from an obscure library in West Virginia and wrote a term paper in college about my family's role in the Civil War.

I've been spending the last few weeks researching the paternal side of my family...

Thanks to the current age of technology, I've been able to do a lot of research on the Internet and trace a lot of family history. Ancestry.com is a great resource, though I'm not willing to shell out the twenty plus dollars it costs per month for a membership. I've still tracked down all sorts of documents and accounts, and I was beside myself when I was able to trace one branch of my family all the way back to 16th Century England!

I'm still an amateur at this whole genealogy thing, but I know I'll get better with time. After all, the researcher-historian is rooted deep within me. I especially love tracing our family back to its European roots. I'd love to do a special trip sometime to visit all the areas my ancestors come from--to really see and experience that connection. To see where I, essentially, came from. {By the way, in case my red hair, freckles, and pale-as-the-moon skin don't make it obvious, the entirety of my ancestors, both paternal and maternal, come from Ireland, England, and Scotland}.

Along the way, I've found out some pretty amazing family history. I'm related to two US Presidents; my great-great-great grandmother was a second cousin of John Quincy Adams, and one of my great-grandfathers was a distant cousin of Rutherford B. Hayes.

I've also found out some family history that is incredibly disappointing. I'm sad to say that on both the paternal and maternal sides of my family, my relatives were slave-owners in the South. This fact troubles my mind a lot. I know that it was commonplace in those times, but that doesn't make it any easier for me to swallow. That is the one aspect of my family history that I find heart-breaking.

So, if you weren't convinced before of my nerdiness before, surely you are now! Just imagine me wildly clicking away at the computer for hours at a time, saving documents to my hard drive, excitedly scribbling down pages and pages of notes, shuffling through the many papers scattered across my desk to cross-reference, and then finally meticulously {and neatly} coping down notes into my notebook--this is reality, folks!

Any other genealogy geeks out there like me?


Tatiana said...

that is so amazing! You were able to go WAY back! Good for ya girly!

the woolseys said...

want to do my genealogy?!?!

Sheryl Revil said...

Oh, I tried doing this (manually) a couple of months ago. Where I'm from, all records are in the churches where our ancestors were baptized. If the church does not keep records so far back, we can only rely on our older relatives. You're so lucky to have found out more about your family. :)


Deanne Perry said...

Sheryl: it is a lot of work, but I can't imagine doing it without technology! I hope you're able to dig back deeper or able to get some good histories from your family members. Good luck!


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