Friday, July 12, 2013

Hooked on Genealogy

When I was young, my mom would spend hours looking through family newsletters, censuses, and books searching for her ancestors. My common reaction was a little less than enthused and normally enhanced with a full teenage eye roll. I felt this way until the first time my curiosity took me to the internet to look for information on my own Swain Family line. I had just married and must have felt like I should do something with my Swain heritage since I had replaced my maiden name with my husband's. After punching in "Swain Family Genealogy" in a search engine I immediately found more information than I could possibly sift through as well as a community of other individuals searching out their own families. After clicking through a couple hits I came upon Glenn Gohr's Swain Genealogy page which linked the last Swain my family knew anything about to another 5 or 6 generations of Swains, ending with Richard Swain who immigrated to the United States in 1634, settled in Hampton, New Hampshire and by 1658 had purchased Nantucket Island with his son and eight others. From there I was hooked. I've never been able to verify with hard evidence that this heritage is fully mine. I have suspicions that there are weak links in this chain (see this post). But even still the desire to learn more intensified, and I spent much time looking for census records and information that could help me understand my family more.

During this time my Grandmother had a box of genealogy that was collecting dust. Not liking to hold on to things that she didn't need, and knowing the value of the information she had,  she was anxious to give the information to someone. When she learned of my new found interest she handed her documents to me. She had spent small fortunes on - civil war records, wills, birth certificates, hundreds of letters to and from cousins and distant relatives. The time and effort she put forth and the information she gleaned in just a few years is phenomenal.

I pull that box of genealogy out far too little now. I long to spend the hours at the computer and at the library like I did when I was first married. I dabble in and out of family history feeling the desire, but willfully having to pull back as I try balancing life as a mother of four small children (6, 5, 3, 1). I know when I'm consumed too much with this work as I get snappy and my house does not get cleaned (which is scary with children my children's ages). . . . so I am trying to slowly go through my grandma's things to get them ready to pass back to my aunts who are more at a season in life when they can work to further what we know.

My vision for this blog is to be my sounding board - a place where I write I about what I love about genealogy, the stories I find interesting, the things I learn from my ancestry, the experiences I have, the research I discover, the tips and websites I find useful, organization ideas, collaboration ideas, etc. I'm excited to spend a little time doing what I love in the midst of a lot of chaos I feel, and documenting my own personal family history in the process!

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