Genealogy was never something that interested me much as a child. I did often ask my parents and grand-parents questions about where we came from, but to actually research the family never crossed my list of important things to do. I was more concerned with playing with dolls or listening to music than I was with finding who was on my family tree.
As we get older though, our priorities change. I became a mom at the age of eighteen and rounding my mid-twenties mark I started really thinking about who I am and where I came from as well as my parents. I asked my dad questions about his siblings, parents and grand-parents and, for the most part, he didn’t have a lot of answers to give me.
My dad actually started to want to know the answers and so I started a quest to learn who our ancestors were for him. Now fifteen years later I want to help others with their journeys to self discovery through finding the links to their past.
How To Start Filling In Your Family Tree
The very first thing I did, when researching my family tree, was to make a list of everyone my parents could think of related to us. I wrote down all of my aunts and uncles and their children’s names. I wrote down my grand-parents and the few great-grand-parents names my parents knew.
I wrote down any dates they knew such as birthdays, weddings, death dates, etc. I started compiling the information into free websites for ancestry such as Wikitree.com. Having the information in a database made it easier to view the tree and see what I still needed to fill in my family tree.
After I finished finding out everything my parents could tell me, I started contacting relatives and asking them about their children, parents, grand-parents, etc. These days staying in touch is simple with Facebook.com and other social media sites. Now I only have to send a friend request to relatives and ask questions, whereas years ago you would have had to send letters or make phone calls. This ability makes researching so much easier.
Research Possibilities For Completing Your Family tree
There are many ways to go about finding your roots, to research your family tree and find your ancestors such as online through genealogy websites like wikitree.com or ancestry.com. You can also go to your local public library and research the newspapers on microfilm and in books and records. You can visit your local records office to obtain copies of birth, marriage and death records. You could travel to places where your family lived and visit libraries and records offices.
The possibilities are endless, but the start should be similar to the way I started. Start by writing down or typing out a list of everyone you can think of and ask your parents, grand-parents and siblings of everyone they can think of as well. Unfortunately for me, I never knew my dad’s dad who died before I was born and my mom’s mom who died when I was 4. My two remaining grand-parents died 11 months apart when I was 11 and 12.
My parents were both on the younger end of their siblings and so the information they knew about their ancestors was very limited so the bulk of what I know, I learned the old-fashioned way through research.
Collecting Information For Finding Your Roots
Once you have the basics down, all the people and dates you can compile, you can start to research and collect additional information to fill in your family tree as I filled in my family tree. It really helps to have as many names and dates you can compile because when you start researching records, you can eliminate people who do not have the same names and/or dates in common.
For instance, when I was researching a great-grandmother on my mothers’ side, I found a person with an identical name with a spouse of the same name as her spouse and a child with a very similar name. Looking over the record I found the dates did’t match or the area she lived in and so I put it into the maybe file until I later ruled it out completely. I have actually run across this quite a few times so having as many names as you can compile is important to help eliminate false information.
I have fallen into a trap of adding information to my file that was incorrect and trust me when I say, it can be very time-consuming and frustrating because then everyone you find related to that person just makes no sense. Now I employ the concept of not adding a person unless I am positive the person is actually who I am looking for. This eliminates confusion particularly since I cannot work on my file every single day.
Another thing I do is to look at the information for validity. By this I mean I check the dates against the age and see if it makes sense. For instance, my aunt gave me some information on my great-grandmother which would have made her 9 when she started having children. This is possible, but unlikely. I had a marriage date already for her and my great-grandfather that would have put her around 18 at marriage which is far more likely. I kept the information my aunt gave me, but did not change what I had already and have found multiple records supporting what I already had in my family tree.
Learning New Things About Your Ancestry
I have found it relaxing and fun to research my family ancestry and to fill in my family tree. With each new person I add, I am adding to my family story and researching what was happening during that time period and discovering the reasons behind why my parents ended up finding one another.
My father was actually born in Tip Top, Kentucky which is literally the top of a mountain. It is a coal-mining small town where pretty much everyone is related. My mother was born in Michigan where she met my dad at 12 years old. I find it fascinating that those two met because it is highly improbable and that is what I find so exciting about researching my family history.
What is it that makes people migrate from one area across country to another area? Especially when it was during a time when travel was pretty slow and my dad’s family was poor. They did not have a lot of means and my dad actually worked in the onion fields at 12 years old to help support the family. In his family there were sixteen kids!
My father stopped going to school at a very young age and worked to help his parents support their family. His father had been previously married and had 4 children from his previous wife. My grand-mother then had 10 children with him and they raised 2 of their grand-children as their own.
I just find it amazing how things work out. I find it intriguing how two people can meet when they are born worlds apart. Finding out your family history will hopefully be as exciting for you as mine was for me. I spend my free time completing research with online websites for archived newspapers and through websites for genealogy. I am on a mission to discover all of my links to my past!
Discovering Your Roots
Finding your roots and filling out your family tree will hopefully a fun and exciting venture as mine as been and continues to be. Knowing your heritage is important and will give you the ability to tell your children and grand-children where they come from.
The information is out there waiting to be uncovered and I am here to help in any way I can. I have found, during my research, that other people are very willing to help in whatever way they can even with taking pictures of graves in their local area for families that live out of the area. We are all on the same path for discovering our roots and filling in our own family trees and the network is really great.
If you have any questions, comments, or anything else please feel free to add them below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I look forward to sharing in your journey to self discovering and helping you fill out your family tree as I have filled out my family tree!