So I guess any blog needs to start somewhere, and this is the first step.
A little background: Almost 40 years ago, I was given a school assignment to create a family tree. I found a nice sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper, and started writing. I knew the names of my parents and grandparents, and my five first cousins, and then pretty much drew a blank — figuratively and literally. Even for the people I knew, I realized I didn’t know their full names, or for the most part when and where they had been born. So I went to my parents, and then grandparents, all of whom were living at the time, and asked typical questions a 4th grader might ask (and, alas, not questions 2015 me would have asked!).
Nonetheless, in that little experiment into genealogy, I learned from my grandfather that our family name had not always been Adelson, that it had been “something like” Fingerbran, and changed to avoid the draft. My first family fact, previously unknown to me, that turned out to be mostly, but not entirely, true. I also heard that my great-great-grandfather Abrams had fought in the Civil War (nope — he didn’t arrive until 1875, but another great-great on that side of the family did), and a couple of other minor inconsistencies lost to time and memory of my grandparents. Already forgotten – at least to my branch of the family – were three other name changes in the last 150 years, which I wouldn’t rediscover until the 21st century.
I also quickly discovered that drawing a family tree did not really lend itself well to 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper, but I did the best I could. The assignment was complete, but it was difficult for a 10-year-old to go further. I had exhausted my immediate family, and records at that time were locked up in courthouses and archives. I had my little tree, and treasured it in a folder in my closet until a house fire destroyed it in the 1980s.
Fast-forward to the late 2000-and-naughts, and the internet has made finding the records so much easier! It’s still taken a lot of time and a few bucks, but the successor to my little paper tree is an electronic (relative [no pun intended]) behemoth containing nearly 2800 names, with a couple of side trees nearing 1000 more altogether.
I wish my grandparents were still around to see the progress I made, and back with them the family history.
Some have suggested that I publish everything in a book, and perhaps I will someday. There are reasonably priced options for creating a book such as that, but it’s a lot of work, and I’m finding out new things all the time. On the other hand, even it’s now much easier to share a tree online, it’s still huge. If I were to print it out on 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper, the tree would run well over 160 feet. Additionally, names and dates are all fine, but there were people behind those names. Sometimes I’m fortunately enough to know something about them, and that knowledge is more difficult to share in the aggregate.
Hence, this blog. Perhaps a dry run for an eventual book, but in any case a place to share those stories I know, as well as my thoughts on the process of genealogy in the modern day. Let’s see where this goes…