28 February 2009

The Beginning... For Me

My first taste of genealogy started in 2001 when I was pregnant with my son. I had posted on a message board on Ancestry.com looking for family in relation to my Rienerth surname. I knew nothing of this side of the family as we had not grown up in Ohio where my dad was from nor had we ever visited there. It was a shot in the dark. The posting was actually made at the end of December 2000, but I received a response from a relative stating she was my second cousin in early 2001. It turns out there were a ton of family members over there in Ohio. I was pretty excited and kept in contact with my new family member over the years. She sent me tidbits she had learned in her own research and it was exhilarating to learn about this family that I knew nothing about. However, raising my son and life in general became time-consuming and family history took the back-burner.

Fast forward to 2008 and I’m walking in Sam’s Club looking at their discounted software. They had Family Tree Maker 2008 Deluxe for about $40.00. Now, I do love my computer programs that allow me to anally enter information in so I convinced my husband we should buy it. I took it right home, installed it, and started entering my information. The monster called obsession was born… The software came with a membership to ancestry.com and all those little leaves were popping up next to the names I entered and it was thrilling every time I clicked on one to find out what record they had in store for me! Birth records, death records, census information… I was clicking on them left and right and merging them with my tree.

I decided that it was my place to preserve our family history (no one had volunteered for the position that I was aware of) and I was more than happy to do so. As I was also pregnant with my second child at the time, I told myself that I was doing this for my children and it was important to know where they came from. It turns out I’ve been doing this for myself as well. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction and a sense of belonging somewhere. Finding out information about my own line of ancestors that I never knew has both elated me and saddened me. I’ve always loved the personal stories of history and I wonder what my own ancestors’ stories are. I can only hope to find them…

I am fairly new to this hobby. I started out frantically collecting information without putting a lot of thought process into it. I am a reader, so I decided to buy some books on the subject. Then I realized how big and complex this hobby is. So I had to take a step back and start gathering some primary information from relatives. Every little piece of information has made me happy. Every little discovery has encouraged me to keep going. I am now obsessively collecting books on genealogy and records and information on ancestors. I’ve also realized that I need to carefully document all of my sources. So I’ve bought the appropriate books and am actually redoing a new tree to make sure every little fact has some source. I enjoy these little nitty-gritty details a lot. I am also looking forward to following the research suggestions in the many genealogy books I now own. I have already started sharing some of this information with my children and hope they one day share the same excitement that I have for our family history.