It seems like much too long since I have written a post. I have gotten lost in my DNA double helix. Well, maybe not the helix, but trying to find others who shared and share my genetics and who are part of my heritage.
I cannot say exactly what started this quest at this particular time. It could be that I saw ancestry.com was having a two week free trial period. I have been a woman obsessed with looking at the records and finding connections before the trial ends. I want to make sure I get everything I can out of my free trial, even though I know I’m already hooked and will subscribe when the trial is over.
Every person has a story and a place from which they come. Those stories are connected to others and their stories and the place from which they also come. It is the infinite connection we all have to each other as human beings.
Sometimes it is a tangled web inside a maze to figure out how one person is connected to me, or if they really are at all. I have found in my searching that things which seem to be like they should be concrete and firm often are not. It would seem that a person’s name and the year in which they were born should be pretty easy to follow. That seems to be far from the case. There is a relative of Jeff’s who was named Johanna. She was also called “Jennie” and “Anna.” Some records list a person’s date of birth as 1905. Some records list it as 1904. There seems to be a pattern of rounding up. For example, if a person’s birth date was July, 1904, the census taker would often round up to say 1904. Sometimes there is no apparent method for the dates written down. Other records are much more precise. For example, on my grandmother’s side of the family, especially with children, the record shows that they child was 4, then in parenthesis, (4/12), indicating that she or he was born in April of the year indicated.
It takes some concentration. My first series of serious mistakes was not paying very close attention. I also was not familiar with how to use the program. I found that I had some relatives added three or four times. Then I had to figure out how to delete the extras and not delete all the information attached to that person. I also realized that sometimes I had added the same person more than once under a different name, such as Anton and Anthony. I have to pay much closer attention.
Connected with each person is a story. While it is sometimes difficult to find actual records of a person’s life, it is more difficult to find the stories of their lives. Those weren’t necessarily written down. Sometimes the stories that have been passed on through the family are not always accurate.
I have always been told that one set of my grandparents’ parents were in an orphanage and that all the records were lost because the orphanage burned down. I have found one, just one record, of some of the children being in an orphanage. I found that by finding the parents first, which I did not expect to find. There were ten children in the family that I have found so far and many of them were older and out on their own when some of the children went into the orphanage. There is no record, at least not one I have found yet, as to why they went into the orphanage. Their mother, at least, was still alive.
Life is a process of telling stories, seeing them played out, learning from them, and integrating them into our own being. It is also a process of figuring out who we are and how we tell our own stories. My looking for my ancestors has become part of my story. The hunt isn’t always easy, but it is exciting and interesting. I think it adds to the richness of my own story. I may actually find out if my red hair entitles me to feel so connected to all things Irish, or Scot!
We all have a longing to belong to something beyond ourselves. From what you know about your families, what stories do you love to share? Are there stories that make you uncomfortable in the telling, or the hearing? What other stories would you like to know?