Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Digging Up Underneath the Family Tree

For the last few years, I have been working on my Family Tree. This would include the Williams', which is my mother's side and the Toney's, which is my father's side of the family. I have been reaching out to other family members in cyberspace to get the 411 on who is living, who has gone, who is married, who had kids, what is everyone's REAL name, and the locations of all these significant events.

I have been using to keep all my information. Their website is the easiest to use and also can back up the information I am getting with documentation (i.e., census records, Social Security Death Index, obituaries, and other family trees). Another source that I have found so useful are funeral announcements. It is almost comical but when someone passes, EVERYBODY has got to be put on the funeral announcement.

The other resource that truly is amazing and definitely a joy to listen to are the elder members of the family. Hearing some of the stories of "how things were" gives you a vivid perspective of who we are and how we got here. But a stumbling block I have run into every now again with the "older crowd" is that they do not want to talk about the past.

Everyone has secrets and skeletons. I have relatives that have had children outside of the marriage or that they had a child when they were 13 or 14 years old. It happens today just like it happened back in the day - just now, it is harder to hide. I do not understand the need for secrets when it comes to knowing who you are and where you came from. I have a cluster of family members in a single geographic area and it would be nice to know if that one of my cousins is not hollerin' at a girl who is closely related.

Speaking from the point of viewpoint of a lover of History, documenting your heritage is something that everyone should do to help you understand what makes you you. Who knows, you may find out that you are related to someone famous (or infamous).

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