Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mystery Solved...!

What a great day!  Why am I so happy?  I found some of the answers to my own puzzling mystery in the McCann Family tree.  Following up on an email i received from a cousin i met through Ancestry.com, i did a little more digging and came up with a link to the rootsireland.ie site- a website i had glanced at a few times, but not used much.  Well it's worth the cost of buying the credits.  While i didn't pinpoint my grandfather's exact family info, i did narrow it down quite a bit, and while on the site, i was able to locate my grandmother's parents marriage record - which gave me info on my great-great grandparents.  A whole other generation uncovered!!!!  What a rush!  I can't wait to share the info with the family. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Usual Suspects...

Just like any good detective, genealogy researchers start by talking to the witnesses.  In this case, your family members.   If you think about it, how often do you get to talk to your siblings?  Not often i would think, with everyone's busy schedules, work, family, etc.  I barely see some of my family, maybe once or twice a year.  With that in mind, make it a special occasion for you all to get together.  A family lunch just to get together, no particular holiday or special event. 

Explain to your family what work you've done so far and what questions have come up.  See if they remember any particular details (what job they held, what clubs they belonged to, etc).  Some new info, or a new angle, may come up that will help you in your investigation.  To share a personal story, i had been talking to my sister and one brother when they were visiting.  The subject of our father's family came up, as we didn't know much information at the time.  My sister mentioned that my grandfather died from complications of Parkinson's disease - a fact I never knew.  What a surprise!  Medical histories can be beneficial to families, especially when knowing there is a potential for recurrence in future generations. 

Bring out the family albums so all can see, giving a visual cue that may spark a memory or two.  It's also a great idea to share family photos so each family member can have a copy of the older pics.  See if they can bring some of their albums too, so you can see which photos to get copies of for your own collection.

Even if it doesn't get you a ton of answers, a day with your family can be a perfect gift, a good memory to share, and a tradition to pass on.   In future get-togethers, visit your cousins, uncles, aunts, and so forth.  Bringing a family close is the greatest result.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Starting your Tree

 You've got your motivation, now to get everything down on paper.  Write it all down, starting with your immediate family and then work backwards, putting each individual's information you know on the branches.  Once you've got down the information, now you can identify the blank spots and how you can obtain the answers.
As you work, put all the details you know or have heard about each individual.  Most of these facts won't show their value until much later in your research. 
Now step back a second.  Look down at your work.  You've got your basic tree.  Notice any holes in the branches?  Start a list of questions on a seperate sheet of paper.   What info do you need to find these answers?  Get that deerstalker out of mothballs, Sherlock.  You're solving a new mystery.

Why oh why....

Why do I want to find out about my family tree?  Good question.  It's not like I'm running into half of them each day.  I see them at funerals, for the most part.  For some, that can be enough.

I, on the other hand, wanted to find a bit more.  I wanted to know my history.  How we came to be in the US.  What causes people to leave their homes and families behind, quite possibly never to be seen again? Do we know where our relatives are back in Ireland?  Are any still there?

Motivation can come through many forms.  Seeing old pictures, a family story, or even just a mention of a name, can set that fire in you to find out more.  Keep the fire going! 

On my own part, it was not having my grandparents around when i was growing up, that made me want to find out more about them.  My mother's father was the only grandparent I ever met in person.  I remember Pop only a bit.  I think i was about six years old or so when he passed.  The most prevalent memory of him was getting whisker burn from him kissing you when you visited.

The other motivation was what to leave when I'm gone.  As i don't have any children of my own, i wanted to leave a bit of a legacy for the rest of the kids in the family.  Something to remember me by.  Hmmm - Remember?  That's it!  I'll give them their history!

Whatever your motivation, discovering your family history can be a great reward.  It will provide you with hours of puzzles, good memories, suprises and smiles.  Enjoy your journey!

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Family Tree

It's been quite a journey over the years, finding out where my family came from.  After years of fumbling my way around, I now know the tools and methods the professionals use and have had some good luck locating and verifying the people that make up my ancestral tree. I've also found a few tips of my own to share. 

My particular tree winds its way back to Ireland - County Roscommon to be precise.  Both sets of grandparents were born in the county - in Ballaghaderreen, Boyle and Rooskey. 

Wanting to share my success, I thought i'd help folks learn how to track down their Irish roots.  "Hey, why not make a blog?", i thought.  So here we go folks.  Hope you enjoy the ride, and get some useful info that you can use in your own research.