If you are home bored and looking for an all-consuming hobby, I just might have the plan for you.-Genealogy. Now with the use of DNA testing and interest in family searches, the Ancestry.com and 23and me.com sites can get you hooked into research. I developed a really deep all-consuming love for my family research over the past ten years. I am still going strong.
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Learn From My Mistakes
I have been researching my family tree for over ten years now. It has been a love-hate relationship because I started with very little information. One thing to remember and you can earn from my mistakes: Talk to your family – the older generation NOW. Please write it down, tape, or video it but do it now before they die and take their history with them.
Save or even take family pictures and keep copies in a genealogy file. Make a file of digital information and put in paperwork like birth certs, death certs, marriage, or divorce records. Make files of church records, newspaper clipping, etc. Scan them into the computer and make a copy backup. Keep a paper file also if you can.See HERE
Now, I did none of that. In fact, I had no interest in our family history until after I married and looked into family names for my children. My family never took many pictures. We had school pictures of us as kids, of course, but no one had a camera in those days. The film was not cheap, and the photos had to be developed. If you took a bad picture, you paid for it right along with the ones you wanted. Not a great hobby for a kid and my parents were both working day and night to keep a business going.
My brother and I eventually left the family home area and did not think of taking family photos when we cleared out the house after my parent’s deaths. My sister kept everything for us but lost most of the pictures in a house flood.
My sister was able to save pictures of my mother’s parents. I have pictures of my parents from my wedding and a couple of polaroids, but that is it. I started to look into my family history after the death of my first husband. I wanted to travel to Ireland and see if I could find “my roots” and I joined online search sites.
I joined ancestry.com, probably the most common pay to play site online. They have online classes that I reviewed and started to compile my parent’s families census reports, birth, marriage, and death records.
I now have a good record of my American family. Not complete, but good enough for my purpose. I was able to connect to another online research family and find most of my father’s father’s family in Meath, and Offaly, Ireland- the midlands. My finding his mother’s ( my grandmother’s}, roots proved more difficult.
I only knew she had a sister in American from her death certificate, only identified as Mrs. Henry Powell. Finding and tracing my great aunt proved the origins of my grandmother Delia.
Some genealogy research sites for you if interested:
Ancestry.com pay, Familysearch.com Free,
Root.ie Pay, search Irish census online for free, Search Griffith valuations for free- Irish property tolls pre census also free . Contact me – leave a message if you want more information
My Irish Granny found via her Sister.
I obtained census reports. Those reports gave me the location of my grandmother’s residences, a list of her children, year of immigration, her dates of birth, and the homes of her married children.
I started looking for churches local to the area to find dates of birth for her children. The birth or baptismal records might give me Delia’s place of birth. Unfortunately, it only listed Ireland as a place of birth. To make matters worse, she gave multiple dates of birth…getting younger and younger as the years piled up. I did find her place of burial, and the grave had a date of birth for 1867. We all assumed the stonemason transposed the numbers from 1876- a common year of birth for her, listed on multiple documents.
Eventually, I got a big surprise about her age! By now, I wanted to obtain my Irish citizenship, and I needed Delia’s birth date to get her birth certificate.
I put Delia on the back burner and decided to look into Mrs. Powell of Watervliet, as stated in Delia’s newspaper obit. I found a Catherine Ryan in a census and later discovered her listed as Catherine Powell at the same address. By back peddling through the polls, I noticed she lived with a man called Thomas Powell and had a child by him- Henry Leo. I then research the Powell family in Watervliet and located comparable occupations, churches, and residential information. I found my great aunt!
The topping on the cake, my great-aunt’s date of birth, led me to a place in Athlone, Westmeath, Ireland. When I went onto the Irish websites Root.ie, I searched for all children by Catherine’s parents. And didn’t I find a sister of Catherine’s named Bridget Anne with the same month and year as placed on that Tombstone for Delia? By the way, Delia is a nickname for Bridget. If you are doing any family research, remember to search for potential nicknames for your loved one; especially in Ireland.
And that was how I finally located Delia after all those years!!! By the way, I had hired three professional researchers over the years to help me find people in my tree and help me verify or reject persons I located. Now, I assist others in discovering their family trees.
In the years of my search, I had found at least three potential Bridget’s before this last search and had to verify by tracing her back in Ireland and then forward to the USA. Eventually, those three turned out to be non-verifiable. Part of the hard part about genealogy research is forcing yourself to go back and verify every piece of information you think is true. It is time-consuming and anticlimactic. There is always the possibility you got everything wrong, or another person researching the same people got everything wrong. It can be a very touchy and heartbreaking situation.
I loved every frustrating and elating minute of my research!!! I still am looking into family research. I spent at least one day a week on my habit during my COVID isolation, looking for DNA matches on the websites.
If you are a genealogy nut like myself, please share your stories and brick walls. I would love the hear your story.
I’ll tell you more about my great aunt in another post. Another surprise!
Take care and stay well my friend