Once again, I’m in the midst of ancestry research, after being contacted by a relative in Arkansas that wanted to share information on my father’s family. Each of us has done quite a bit of ancestry work, and it makes perfect sense for us to collaborate and share what we have done on this particular line in the family. I’ve also been working on some other family lines, too.
I first began ancestry research in earnest after my brother died in 2007. Some events during that sad time pointed to the fact that we really needed to get our family history documented somewhere, and I realized I had the opportunity to leverage my aging mother’s memory of such things, especially since she had some old family photos that we needed to preserve.
I created a family tree at Ancestry online for the first time in 2007 in memory of my brother, and I will never regret that decision. My sister scanned the old photos, and I edited them as best I could and even learned how to “rebuild” some areas in a few photos in the process. I bought a six-month research membership, and I used it almost daily for that entire time.
I was honestly quite surprised at how much good information I was able to glean at Ancestry. Many times, I would find a piece of information and ask my mother about it, which would jog her memory to confirm the details. I learned of family members that I never even knew about and new details about others as well. It was such a fascinating experience, and it was a great way for me, my mother and my sister to honor my brother in the process.
Finally, at the end of that initial six month period, I felt that I had exhausted the available resources at Ancestry for the paid membership, and I mostly put it aside for several years. On occasion, I would purchase a single month membership, just to check to see if any new information popped up.
After being contacted by this relative a couple of weeks ago, I have once again purchased a research membership, and my goodness, there is so much more information available now. I have already made some great updates to many people in the tree, and I’ve also been able to work through some “dead-end” tree issues through other member trees that were not available a few years ago. The 1940 census information is also available now and was not available the last time I did research online.
I’m once again “hooked” on this little project, at least for a while. The standard membership is a somewhat limited membership, but it is all I need for now. Having access to other member trees, grave site records and the available census data will get me the information I want at this time, and I can always go back later on to add public records and other information that is available with a more expensive membership. Over the years, I have also found plenty of errors, especially in the transcription of census data. It is certainly understandable, and I try to file corrections online when I find them for the benefit of future researchers.
The biggest score in this most recent round of research has been tracing my husband’s family back to his great-great grandfather for certain. And of all things, I even found a good photo of him and his wife! If you’ve ever done ancestry research, perhaps you can appreciate what a great find that was.
I also found the burial site of my dear grandmother’s younger sister at last. They were very close but were separated after their mother died at a young age from a ruptured appendix. I actually had to call cemeteries in California in the area where she lived at the time of her death to locate it, since that cemetery has not yet acquired volunteers to catalog their sites online. My grandmother and this sister were very close, despite the long distance between them for many years, the distance between west Texas and northern California, which I certainly understand these days myself. As it turns out, she lived and was buried with her husband in a cemetery that is not too terribly far from where my daughter now lives. I sent that information to my daughter, and she was excited to know there was some close family history in her area. She said it “made her day” and plans to go check it out sometime when she is in the area.
If you’ve ever considered ancestry research, I highly recommend subscribing at Ancestry for a month, just to give it a try to get a basic tree online. You may provide some missing links for someone else, and you will find that you can make a lot of progress quickly, too. Just *be very careful* and review all records for accuracy before attaching them to an ancestor’s record. If in doubt, just throw it in your “shoebox” there. The little green leaves are just suggestions. I open every census document and review it myself. Your tree and all information you find will be kept there permanently, and you will always have access to it, even when you no longer pay for a research membership. It has been a fabulous tool for us, and our wonderful tree is something that I will always treasure.
At some point, I will have to hand off administration of this tree, hopefully to a family member that loves ancestry research as much as I do now. Much time and effort has gone into it, and much more will go into it over time, too. It is truly a priceless treasure.
Making progress in my research has also been a great way for me to honor my mother in a personal way right now. She was all about family, and it seems quite fitting to now continue this project in her honor. Researching my ancestors has brought back many fond memories from 2007 when she helped so much with this project. That was a very meaningful time with Mom, one that I will forever cherish, and it is giving me a good deal of comfort right now to return to this project once again.
Note: If you would like to look for the burial location of a family member or friend, check out Find A Grave. It’s totally free to use anytime.