When I was in high school, I had started one of those books to track my family roots. Fortunately at that time, my greatgrandmothers were still alive and I was able to pull a bit of information from them both to at least get me started. Unfortuantely, I had the attention span of most teenage girls and the desire for boys overtook my desire to learn more about my genealogy.
This past Christmas, my grandma Caryl (mom’s mom) wrote her life story down and gave each of her children and grandchildren a copy. It was an interesting read and I had not realized there was so much of her life I knew nothing about – in addition to the large chuck of family that I was hearing about for the first time. I had an Aunt Oley? Now who is this Viola related too?
Something stirred inside of me to learn more – not only about my mom’s side of the family, but my dad’s too. Then it hit me. The book I started from 1982. I went down to the garage, and after digging through eight boxes, my fingers touched the spine. Unbelievable this book has made it through six moves and a flood. I guess it was meant to be finished. Finished by me. (Note to self, add ‘digging my roots’ to the 43things.com list).
So where do I start? I had information up to my great grandparents as that is as far as my book allowed me to go (hey, I bought it with a teenagers allowance – cut me some slack). Enter Ancestry.com. What a great service. It is a tad bit expensive, but I figured I had to at least give it a try as it is my genealogy for Pete’s sake. So I signed up for a month’s service figuring I could find everything I needed in 30 days. Well, I was half right. The service is great as it allows you to pull census reports from the 1800’s, birth and death records, and you can also see other people’s trees that could possibly include the person you are looking for. This is so cool.
There are only two so-called negatives I found with this service – (1) You can only link parent to child (no links for aunts, cousins, etc.) and (2) someone could find my birth record and believe John Wells was my father and link me to him, building a tree from that information. John Wells is NOT my father (at least I don’t think so…mom??) so their tree has wrong information which other people could pull as true and the chain of misinformation would continue. I guess it comes down to just being really careful to the information you use and triple checking the records.
I would also like a way for my tree to be private so no one could change the information I link to, but it seems that is not a feature they provide. So, I will gather the information from Ancestry.com and then build my tree offline somewhere else. A little extra work, but should at least guarantee the information I find is intact.
All in all, I would totally recommend Ancestry.com to anyone starting to dig into their roots. I have already renewed my monthly membership as there are a few more Wells I need to track down and I would like to pull a tree for Chris‘ family as well. You know, make sure there were no axe murders in his line before I say ‘I do’. 🙂
P.S. A cool bit of info I have found about one of the people I am related to on my mom’s side of the family – Robert Fulton (invented the steamboat).