When someone says it's the journey and not the result, they are full of it. I want results and it ain't as easy as those commercials for ancestry.com. They would have you believe with the click of a mouse you will find out everything there is to know (and then some... often way too much information) about your family history.
I got sucked in on the free two week trial thinking I could knock this out in no time. Well, I spent around 40 hours online those two weeks and was nowhere near finished. They know this, so you give your credit card number and pay $14.95 a month. If you want foreign country info it's even more. You have to cancel or they will keep renewing. I figured I'd surely make it in one month. I worked like a fiend and finally had to quit at an arbitrary century so I would have time to try and fill in the blanks. Barely made it and there are huge holes. I also had the luxury of my Grandma Hinkston's completed tree, done by one of her nephews. That was 1/4 of mine done right there! Here is a photo of my stylin' Great Grandma Lula LaVina Wisner Shaw (Grandma Hinkston's mom.) What fashion sense I inherited! Downplayed, yet over the top!
Some folks may find this fun, but I really didn't. Probably had something to do with my self-imposed deadline. But it was kind of interesting. Things I learned:
1. Everyone goes back to someone famous, someone infamous and someone ugly. In my case, if all is correct, I go back to King Charlemagne and a Concubine, many European monarchs (inbred beyond belief), a scribe to George Washington at Valley Forge (verified), the Hershey family (justifying for good my addiction to chocolate), Pocahontas's half-sister and Chief Eagle Plume who wiped out a village of settlers because of John Smith. One unfortunate nobleman, Lord Dacre, was executed because he was deer hunting on someone else's land. During the "getaway" someone accidentally died, so the whole hunting party was hanged. As for ugly, get a load of some of these folks! It's a miracle I'm so good-looking LOL!
2. Be prepared to be confused. I wound up using a color coded system and nearly ran out of colors! Also, there are millions (OK, hundreds) of people with the same name. You will go cross-eyed double checking those tiny public records. In my tree alone, I have 4 great+ grandfathers named Valentine. Who names a boy Valentine???? My maiden name is Williams. If you are a Jones, Smith or Williams, good luck!
3. If you give this hard earned library of information to your relatives, they will have no idea of how much work it was and no idea of what to do with it. Just don't expect gushing thanks. You will also spend a small fortune printing it, so have them go to ancestry.com for free and they can do it themselves.
4. There will be many dead ends. Let them die or you will go nuts. Also, you will find impossibilities and other landmines. It is pretty difficult to have children after you die or before you were born. If they supposedly had children while under the age of 15, I threw it out. Even if true, that's just gross. You will think you are finished, then push one last "shaking leaf" hint and wind up on a day-long labyrinth of a mess.
5. If you do your husband's family, you will have endless things to make fun of! I call Mark "Loser" because every single civil war period relative of his was a Confederate (his great+ grandpa was Robert E. Lee's brother. Their father sold the land all down the Potomac to the government, but kept Arlington Cemetery for the family. When Robert lost the war, they put the cemetery in his front yard so he could look out every day at the damage he'd done. The house on the hill behind Kennedy's grave is the Lee house. He also had mostly lower-ranking "red-shirt" types in that army. As you may have guessed, my family all fought for the North and were highly ranked! He also had some hilarious names in his tree--my favorite is Aristides Cornelius Landstreet. Geesh, why didn't we name our son Taylor after him? (Actually, he did try to convince me to name him Early after a legendary Prince Early in their family. I say legendary, because I never found a shred of evidence that there was one. Also, when one dies they are known as late---so he would wind up "the late Early." No way.)
Well, if I haven't scared you, try it and see what you find. I'd love to hear!
Until next time,