Saturday, April 13, 2013

Genealogy regrets, I've had a few

After my dad passed away, in 1999, my sister, Nadine, started looking into our family's genealogy.  She has collected a lot of information, and has even created great family history books that have been handed out at reunions.  My interest in this hobby only began about 2 or 3 years ago, so I admit to being a newbie.  I thought this would be a hobby to keep me busy and to help devlop my interest in where my family came from.  However, this interest became an unquenchable need.

Like many families, mine has some quirks including non-paternal events, and a grandfather born about 10 years before his home state instituted vital records administration (Kansas - 1911).  When I was a child I met all of my first cousins, and quite a few more distant relations.  Unfortunately, I was never interested in who these more distant relations were, or how I was related to them.  Only now, forty years later, am I wishing I had asked those questions.  Every genealogist must have this realization at some point: that so many sources of family history information have passed on, the regrets can be legion.

Thirty years ago I gathered a bunch of family history information to create a family tree for a class assignment.  I used the details that were provided by my dad's sister, Margaret, who was the Baker clan's family history buff, and handed in a lovely chart that went back to the early 1600's.  That information had even included a photograph of my 2X great grandfather, George Washington Baker, and his Civil War buddies.  To my deep regret I didn't keep a copy of the final result, or any of the backup information I used, and the family history information went back to my Aunt.  Not much later, Margaret's house burnt down, along with all the family history treasures.  

Now, my sister and I are working to recreate the original information Margaret had.  Luckily, when I ordered a copy of the Daughter's of the American Revolution application that was submitted by an offspring of George's sister, Salome, I was able to recognize many of the names and details that had been included in the family history we borrowed from Margaret so many years before.  I could use many of these details to at least initiate an hypothesis, a search plan, and get to work creating my Genealogy.  Okay, I just lied - I dived in, searching for anything and everything.  No plan, just some half-baked theories, but I did find a lot of information.  Only now, after a couple of years and plenty of lessons through the school of hard knocks, am I going through all of that original information, getting the proper citations, and filing everything in a simple organizing system.  Now I'm looking at each nugget, really analyzing each document, each sentence, each word, to figure out what I really have.   Finally, I will be using this to create a real hypothesis, search plan and research log.

I had no idea genealogy could become a calling, an obsession, an addiction, which it definitely has.  I often wonder if anyone else gets that "genealogist's high," that jolt of adrenaline that comes when one finds a long-searched-for individual listed on the finally-located obituary or probate record.  In the end, I am hoping to use this blog to work out some of the more intriguing relationship challenges and to report on some of the more interesting searches.  Possibly even as a bit of "cousin bait," and I don't think I will regret that.

Copyright 2013 Denise G Baker, All Rights Reserved

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