For my husband’s and my wedding, my sister-in-law and I created a 10′ by 20′ family tree, tracing our lineages back many generations. (you can see it below) Our actual family trees as recorded online comprise about 1000 people each and not all of that would actually fit on our printed copy, but we labored over it for hundreds of hours.
I loved (almost) every minute.
Genealogy is a passion of mine. I read once that you die twice- once when your spirit leaves your body and once when your name is spoken for the last time. I like to think of myself as these people’s last hope for survival- after all, I’ve spent so long staring at Almiron Goodrich’s marriage license that I feel like we have a unique connection, he and I. I’ll certainly never forget him, at least. (Remind me, I’ll tell you about him sometime)
On each table during the wedding (and honestly, for a couple days beforehand) I put a little pamphlet highlighting S’s and my interesting ancestors.
So, because this is one of my passions, I thought I’d share. This is a great hobby (I do it for free, as long as you don’t count the time spent) and it’s pretty much solving a deep, twisted mystery about your past. Sure, there will be some dead ends, and some frustrations, and you might run into a person you just can’t figure out *coughAlmironGoodrichcough* but you might discover that you’re descended from a woman who birthed quadruplets in the 1640s two weeks after her husband died. You might discover that she was a pillar of strength for her family- all four of whom survived- and went on to live a happy life. (Her name was Sarah Brout, by the way)
You just might.
Here’s what you need:
-the closest deceased ancestor you know. For me, this is my dad’s parents (Callie Arnett Bradburn and Robert Julian Bradburn. I remember that they both died in 2000, so that’s a great start.)
I only use the pen and paper when I’ve run across a tangle and need to write it down.
I use a program called Family Echo. It’s online, free, and really simple. Here’s a screen capture of a tiny bit of my family tree:
As you can see, it’s simple. Each of those blue or pink colored tabs is a person. If I click on them, as I have clicked on myself, a little dialogue box appears on the left hand side. There, I input the birth (and usually death) dates and anything I know about them Biographically, so where they lived and what they did. I also always link to the place on the internet where I found the info.
For the names above, I’d input my name, my parents full names, and then Google search “Callie Arnett Bradburn d.2000” and continue variants on that until I found one that matched. You’ll want to be very careful with dates- sometimes people with the exact same name lived at almost the exact same time. Just contrast and compare and input when you feel like you’ve hit upon the right people.
Here are the my most trusted and most used websites:
Google books is a huge help, but sometimes tedious. I always use Ctrl + F to search on a page or in a book to speed things up.
Helpful, and they want you to pay, but often you can see some information without paying.
www.myheritage.com (I got a free two week trial of this and solved some serious knots in my tree. If you want to pay for something, I’d suggest this site. It’s worth it. To be clear, though, I do not pay for it, I just wish I had it now that my free trial is over.)
Less trusted, but still valuable:
Genearally not trustworthy, but sometimes extra data can be found:
www.geni.com < This website has great ancestor backstory, but often isn’t great on dates and the accuracy to family members.
Sometimes you can find gems like this:
DAR-Magazine (Amy Avery Fitch is an ancestor of mine)
Also, sometimes you will find an entire website dedicated to your particular ancestor. Win! That’s a serious score, and you should save it for future reference.
You’ll find many others, depending on who your family members are.
So, there you have it. Here’s a bit of interesting information about one of my ancestors:
Fulk I FitzWarin (d.1170/1), a supporter of King Henry II (1154-1189), of Whittington in Shropshire and Alveston in Gloucestershire, son of the “shadowy or mythical” Warin of Metz, Lorraine. Fulk I (d.1170/1) was rewarded by King Henry II (1154-1189) for his support of his mother Empress Matilda in her civil war with King Stephen (1135-1154) and conferred to him in 1153 the royal manor of Alveston in Gloucestershire and in 1149 the manor of Whadborough in Leicestershire. Fulk II held those properties after the death of his father in 1171.
One of the most prominent legends concerning Whittington Castle regards the Marian Chalice, thought by some to be the Holy Grail. According to this legend, Sir Fulk FitzWarin, the great grandson of Payne Peveril and one in the line of guardians of the Grail and King Arthur. A story from the 13th century states that the Grail was kept in a private chapel of the castle when Sir Foulke was there. The coat of arms of Fulk FitzWarin is hung above the castle archway.
Here’s his coat of arms:
Interested in your heritage? ever wondered if you’re descended from William the Conqueror, or Vikings, or Celts? Want to know if your ancestors were in Paris during the French Revolution? Stuck on your family tree? Want to know more about mine?
Leave a comment and let me know! I love genealogy! (As if you couldn’t tell)