As I’ve noted in previous posts, I started going through a cache of old family photographs a couple of months ago. I have spent many hours looking at photographs, trying to identify the subjects, locations and time periods. Once I’ve identified them I scan and file the photos. It is enjoyable but it takes time. I still have hundreds of pictures to review.
The old photos prompted me to check out Ancestry.com. Their television advertisements make it look so easy to get started. I think they actually use those words; “makes it easy to get started”. The ads do not lie. After you enter some basic information from memory, the little leaves sprout on your family tree with hints about your past and off you go.
What they don’t tell you is how to stop. Each leaf leads to more leaves. Those leaves lead to even more leaves. Soon you have hundreds of leaves to review and every time you review one, 3 more spout. There’s always another ‘freakin’ leaf! It’s like Whack-a-mole. Were it not for the biological necessities, I could easily spend days clicking on the leaves.
A couple of days ago I posted pictures of my great-aunt Wilma on this blog. A fellow blogger was nice enough to send me a link to a photo of Wilma’s grave in Kentucky [Thanks Sluggy!] This opened up a whole new world to me; Find-A-Grave (F.A.G.- hmmm). Another blogger was nice enough to spend some ‘Facetime’ with me over the weekend acting as my F.A.G. (hmmm) mentor [Thanks Ron!]. It is really very cool. And after only a few days as a member I am already managing the memorials of two aunts, a great-aunt and a great-uncle. I have requested to become the memorial manager of great-aunt Wilma and her mother & father; my maternal great-grandparents.
A very nice thing about the marriage of genealogy and technology is it allows people with shared interests to connect with others who they might not otherwise meet. When I started looking into Wilma’s history I encountered someone on Ancestry.com that has done a lot of research on the Wallace family. We determined we were third cousins, once removed. She has a family tree with more than 29,000 names on it. That is a lot of leaves! I have been able to fill in some gaps for her as well as provide photographs for some of the people in her tree. In exchange she has taught me a lot about researching and has provided photos and information from other members of our extended family with whom she has been in contact.
Of course, there is also a lot of overlap among users of the two systems. I met, via email, a women on F.A.G. (hmmm) who has done much research on the paternal side of my family. I don’t think she and I are actually related because our families only connect by marriage but a first cousin of hers is my first cousin, once removed…I think. With the information she provided, and several hundred leaves, I was able to trace one of the lines on my father’s side back to my 8th-great-grandfather; Willem Krom; born in New York in 1675.
Even more impressive, my paternal great-grandmother was a Lee; one of those Lees. Robert E; Light-Horse Harry; ….’seriously, undoubtedly, the oldest fam-a-lee of Virginia’; according to the score of 1776. The Lees have traced their genealogy back to the 12th century. So far I have only gotten as far back as my 8th-great-grandfather in that line as well; Richard Henry Lee; born in Virginia in 1678.
Decisions, decisions! There is always a fork in the road. I could continue sorting through another 25 generations of Lees. Or I could give the Lees a rest and start tracking down some other line back to another 8th-great-grandfather. If I am doing the math correctly everyone has 1024 8th-great-grandparents. So far I have only found 4. But it is only 4:00 PM and I have 183 leaves yet to turn over. So what if I haven’t eaten breakfast yet.