Family Histories, the Good, the Bad and the Beautiful
Updated on January 8, 2014
Sooner or later, everyone has that desire to know where they came from and how they ended up being where they are today. Now, for some of us, the desire ends up being a desire and it will never move any further. Others, will try to find out where they actually did come from, and start tracing back their family history. What is certain, is that everyone of us has a family history, whether we know what that is or not! Much of our information will depend on the family and family members.
There are certainly a number of places to go and find out information if that is what you are after, but the best place to start is right within your own family. Talk to your parents, grandparents and if you are lucky even your great grandparents. They are the link to the past and the information you get from them will be a great starting point for your searches.
A Trip Back in Time
Family History is the only place where you don’t move forward!
I find it really interesting that with family histories the only way to travel, is back in time. You start where you are now and remove decade after decade always moving backwards. Depending on your own family, how close they are, how many members are still around, and what they remember could make a lot of difference in what you find. It will make the difference between getting a lot of information right now, or having to search out the answers from other sources.
A close family, with good strong ties to uncles, aunts, cousins and more will make your job so much easier in the long run. Start by setting up a form letter or questionnaire and send It out to your family members. With the amount of Social Media available today, that task is much easier than it has ever been before. Even if you only have a handful of relatives that you are in touch with, you can send them the original questionnaire and ask them to pass it along to members of the family that you may not know quite so well. Who knows, if you start digging, someone else may just help to pick up the ball and get it rolling.
Start with a few good books on where to look and how to organize your findings. Books are a concrete way to organize all the information that will be coming to you. It also helps to keep all that information handy, so that sorting and making time lines will be so much easier.
As you go along finding relatives, it’s great to write little notes and stories, keeping them in one place helps in the end result. The information you are getting may in fact overlap, or be totally new to you. It’s amazing all the little things you will learn about your family history.
A great little book to keep your findings and pass them along to the next generation, once it’s been filled with your findings.
The Official Guide to Ancestry.com
My Father’s Quest
In the late 1980’s my father began his quest to find out how far back he could trace his family name.
His quest was started by an interest in knowing more about his “Family Crest”. After my grandfather had passed away, my father received some “stuff” from his brothers and sisters. I guess they were feeling just a little guilty that my father had nothing from his earlier life in Switzerland, and nothing that were family heirlooms. He was the only one from a family of 9 brothers and sisters that had left the country to call another country home.
In that bunch of “stuff” was a family crest, that had my father wondering where the heck it had originated. He became convinced that the Irish really had a lot of Swiss in them. His Family Crest was a Helmet in the middle with three shamrocks coming out of the helmet. One in the Center and one on either side.
On one of his many trips back to Switzerland, he went into the towns’ archives and copied ledgers of Births and Deaths going all the way back to the 1400’s. Unfortunately, many of those ledgers were hand written and because the styles of writing changed they became illegible to us. There are also some big gaps in there, where town halls burned down and records went up in smoke along with the buildings.
We as a family are pleased that he got that far back in his search, but that is where it also ended…..My father became ill and could no longer travel or do the research.
On an upside though, one of my cousins started a My Heritage Site, and all our families are now in there and moving forward……so our children will have a much easier time of finding their long-lost European connection, if and when they want to know.