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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Up the Family Tree

Over the Fourth of July weekend, I was talking to my dad and I asked him a question about the family. I can't remember what the question was or why I asked it, but I was surprised by his answer. I asked more questions and started to make notes, trying to keep it all straight in my head. My dad pulled out folders from what he calls his memory box and the next thing I know, I'm creating a family tree on one of the online sites.

That Sunday, we stayed up until 2am and on Monday, Independence Day, we spent the entire day inputting data into the tree.

But we weren't using the big family tree site, but some other one and searching for more information became more and more irritating because everything was behind the paywall on the big kahuna. The next day, I did some searching online and discovered they did have some free databases. But as I began to search those, I began to feel like all the "good" stuff was behind the paywall.

And it probably is.

Finally, I gave up and paid. As unhappy as I was about this, I'll admit that there was a lot of good, solid information there and that they make extremely easy to add it to the family tree. With a caveat here. The more recent information--my generation and the one after me--is scarce. I also discovered that the international information is a higher fee. :-(

I'll probably end up paying that, too, since both my mom's parents emigrated and so did my dad's father and his grandparents. And all I can do now is to continue to explore the people who were born or lived in the USA.

This project, while time consuming, is a good thing, though. My dad hasn't been interested in much since my mom died and this had him engaged. He had all kinds of folders full of information out and kept consulting them as I asked for information.

Some of what he knew was sketchy and he wished he'd done this earlier. He's the third youngest of eight and all his brothers and sisters have passed away. If we'd done this before they'd died, they could have helped us because there were things he just didn't know or couldn't remember because he was too young. His father died when he was 9 and his mother when he was 12, so he also wasn't told a lot of things because of his age.

Some of the highlights I've discovered: My dad's father emigrated with his younger brother. I didn't know there was another branch of the family! My dad told me there was a falling out between the families and they didn't talk. But he doesn't know what the issue was because he was too young when it happened. I'm dying of curiosity!

The other piece of information was a maybe confirmation that my great aunt had been married before Uncle John. She was a divorcee. ::gasp:: ::scandalized:: That was a rumor that was unleashed at a family party that we missed, but to find what looks to be her marriage information? Incredible.

And this is what makes this family tree thing kind of addictive.