Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A long journey that has a long way to go

Would you believe that I've been researching my family history for 20 years? Its true, I started in 1991 but of course, I didn't have a computer then, unless you count the Apple IIc my brother gave me and the Internet was something no one had ever heard of, unless you were using the really early form of it.

Twenty years is a long time and with genealogy, its not something that's going to have a forgone conclusion like when you read a book and you realize you're getting to the end. Genealogy is something that doesn't have an ending, at least not your standard one like a book or a television show. I didn't really start getting into the research part of it until about 1998, when FamilySearch first launched their fledging website that crashed within the first few hours. But it was that website where I discovered that my paternal grandfather, who had started researching his family when I was a little girl, had been wrong and yet had held the key to the family tree but never realized it.

A page on Facebook recently posed a question, if you could walk in one of your ancestor's shoes who would you pick? I picked a great-grandfather on my mother's side because he was raised by his mother and step-father and I would like to know what happened to his natural father. But I don't think anyone could pick just one ancestor, at least I can't. I'd also like to walk in my paternal grandfather's shoes because maybe I could see just why he followed the direction of his research that he did and understand his theory for thinking his great-grandparents were of foreign birth. Then again, I may never find out just why except that he picked a name out of a book that allegedly was about every 'Fry' in the world.

So here's my tip as we start a new month. Never think that a brick wall is the end of the line. And never think that once you get to the most recent generation of any branch that that's the end of the line either, because it isn't. If you can't go forward, try going backwards or even sideways. And if you can't go those directions try going forward because you never know what you'll come across when it comes to genealogy research.

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