Monday, November 5, 2012
GENEALOGY & the World Wide Web
GENEALOGY AND THE WWW:
Online sites such as Ancestry.com are great for gathering information about your family lines. But be aware: everybody has a hidden desire to discover that they are progeny of royalty or otherwise famous ancestors! And, to be fair, if you are able to go back far enough in time, it may sometimes even be true. But here are a few tips to help prevent you from jumping to the wrong tree, so to speak:
1. Start with what you know from your parents and grandparents. Record it now. My mom and dad's oral histories have proven to be surprisingly accurate. But more importantly, they have also supplied the personal, humorous, tragic, or "unspoken" stories that have brought the past to life.
2. Once in America, our families typically settled in New England. Within a generation or two, however, they tended to migrate west -but only slightly so. Horace Greeley's "Go west, young man, go west" really did mean places like Michigan!
3. When I began my family research, it was a tedious and expensive process of contacting county clerks and requesting birth or death documents -one at a time. A 'shirt-tail' relative, Dan Houser, shared a great deal of information in the '80s and '90s about the Post family by searching long-abandoned cemeteries to find the facts as recorded on crumbling headstones. (By the way, his efforts contributed to the work of preservationists for Potter Cemetery, where Mom's ancestor and Michigan pioneer, Abraham Post's family are buried. http://monroe.lib.mi.us/community_info_ash_township_potter_cemetery.htm )
4. If your own search efforts take you far enough into the past, you will often find that others have done 'the heavy lifting' for you with completed genealogies in place, going back to as far as recorded history allows. (I was able to ride one of our family lines back into the 900's!)
5. Although modern, lightning-speed technology allowed me to gather an enormous amount of data in a short amount of time, it soon became overwhelmingly "TMI" (too much information). So I had to refine my study -at least for now- to a manageable time frame going back to "The Great Migration." I hope you'll enjoy seeing where and how our family contributed to the creation of the United States of America.