To be honest I can’t remember when it started but I do know how. It all goes back to Grandma. Of course, she had no idea she was a genealogist. She just liked to talk and visit. Her favorite subject was her family, both the one she came from and the one she brought into the world.
I grew up hearing all about Papa, Mama and all her siblings. Most of them passed away years before I was born, but I always felt like I knew them. I guess I did know them. I knew all their names, who they married and the names of their children. I also knew dates. I can remember the dates they all were born and died as easily as I can my own parents and grandparents.
Grandma also had a habit of making lists and recording dates. Looking through her Bible you will find all the important dates several times. She had everything; births, deaths marriages, baptisms and the date of every time she finished reading it. Old calendars show when it rained, stormed, someone moved, or someone came to visit.
Her biggest and most treasured collection was the box of newspaper clippings. When I describe it as treasured I am referring to myself. I am the one who treasures it. I built most of my database by going through all those obituaries, engagement and wedding announcements, birth announcements and family reunion articles. If it contained a name she knew, it was cut out and saved.
Grandma also had a couple of nieces that inherited that same gene from their mother. They both loved to dig up the family history and record it. One wrote newspaper articles and the other wrote a small book. The first copy she gave to my grandmother was hand written. I typed and bound the book for her birthday one year. That is when I started to record everything I knew about her family.
After getting very confused with all the my written notes, I searched the internet and found the Personal Ancestry File program that was offered free by the LDS. I used it for years. Several times over those years I got new computers and had a computer crash. I didn’t lose my data with all those changes, (backup is a good thing) but it always disconnected the media. I finally gave up and stopped putting my pictures and files on the tree. Sometimes I find it hard to change.
In the meantime, my dad’s sister gave me the names of my ancestors on that side. She didn’t have any information other than the names, but it was a start. Computers had come a long ways in all those years and it was now a little easier to get the information you were looking for. I then bit the bullet and signed up for Ancestry.com. A couple of years later, I ordered Family Tree Maker.
At last count I have over 10,000 names in my database. I am related to or at least connected to every single one of them. If you hear that everyone in Union Parish is related you can believe it. Whenever I add someone new I always check to make sure it is not a duplicate. I will be adding a family, start to add the spouse and the name will click. If that person in not already entered, they usually end up the child of someone who is. My family tree quickly turned into The Union Parish Family Tree.
I am now trying to learn the art of discipline. When I start I find it hard to stop. I have to force myself to walk away from the computer. It’s not quite so easy to stop thinking about it. Maybe I can find it here. I should look in that book. He may be to son of ……