Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lost in the corridors of time

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
 
I doubted if I should ever come back.

-- Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"                          


A week ago, I signed up for a two-week trial at Ancestry.com, and I think I've been on it about 100 hours since that time.  I've wanted for quite a while to look into my family history, and now that I've got the time, I thought I'd go for it.

My mom, aged two or so, wearing her much older brother's hat.

If you've ever done it, you know that this kind of endeavor is both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.  As I mentioned briefly the other day, when you uncover little tidbits that you were completely unaware of (like turning grey at an early age runs in the family), it's exciting but when you run down connection after connection that all turn out not to be the person you're related to, or the trail goes cold because Ancestry doesn't have much in the way of records in that country, you've spent all that time for nothing.  
So far, I've accomplished quite a bit.   I've uncovered a great deal of my son's dad's family, all the way back to an ancestor who was born in 1801 (I really want to break into the 1700's!), and have filled in quite a bit on my side, though I'll have to spring for a one-month membership in the German Ancestry.com to get much farther with that.  I've become pretty obsessive about it -- today I had a number of things on my agenda, but I wound up spending almost all the livelong day chasing down "hints," as they call them.
 Here's my mom again, a little older, a little more bada$$ than in the other picture.

I'm curious whether any of you have gone down this road and have any advice for me.  Is any one of the sites better than another?  Do I need to join more than one?  Have you discovered tricks or do you have any tips that would be helpful?
I've always loved the Robert Frost poem quoted above, and have thought a lot about how "way leads on to way" has been true in my life -- the roads do diverge, we do make choices and at some point can never go back.  I guess it applies to ancestor-hunting too, that you don't know where it leads and in a sense, you can't un-discover things, once they are discovered.  I learned something quite interesting about my grandmother the other day, for example.

I'd love to hear from those who have done this kind of work.  Leave me a comment or send me a message, okay?

It's getting late on Saturday, so -- happy Sunday, one and all.

6 comments:

Margaret said...

The photos are adorable! I have searched a bit and gone down "dead ends" but the little bit you do find is so fun. I think to keep googling their names as people put things up now and again. I have put up a journal and poetry about my grandmother (born late 1800's) and if someone ever searches and contacts me, well, they would find I have a TON of family photos that extend a number of generations back and I would be happy to share.

Good luck and enjoy searching.

Katy Noelle said...

It's way to late on Saturday for me! Actually.... looking at the clock, it's now the wee cricket chirping hours of Sunday morning. I couldn't sleep and needed some chocolatey warm milk. ;)

and, am so happy to see you posting! and, talk about great minds thinking alike.... Robert Frost! He's been often on our minds and in our conversations, this week. I just bought another book of his poetry and am anxiously waiting for it to come in the mail. We're hoping to finally get the boys to his homestead, in this last month of vacation. =] and, also, Tom and I were just talking about his poem when he's splitting wood and the hobo comes along.... you know the one...? =D

I'm rambling on and rather sleepy...

but, another thing on my husband's brain has been Ancestry.com. He's been going at it for a year, now, and has traced his father's family back into the middle ages.... we were just discussing Richard the Lionheart.=/ I'll try to show him this post tomorrow afternoon.

Elise, it's so happy to hear from you! =]

xo

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

It seems my stepdaughter is somehow connected to a family tree that goes back to the 1100's, though I haven't been quite able to figure out what the connection is.

It's good to hear from you, Katy -- I will be keeping up with you more now that I have the time! (I'm retired now.)

Danielle said...

I have been working on my family history for over five years now...I have 5 three inch/three ring binders full of what I call our "Family History Book". I am fortunate that my father's family were paper hoarders and saved everything. I still have stacks of war letter to go through...from WWII all the way to Vietnam...Anyway...I too am passionate about all this so I could keep on 'talking'...however, to answer your question about Ancestry.com...I did sign up for about a year...and the information and documents I was able to locate helped me in the basics of beginning this journey. Another plus from Ancestry.com is allowing other people to see your 'tree' and being able to connect with unknown parts of the family tree...I was able to this with two people and was able to download some documents and photos that I would otherwise have known nothing about. I still have so much to work with just from what was handed down to me that I discontinued the Ancestry subscription for now...but once I get through the boxes before me, I definitely will begin the search again with them. I haven't had much luck with anything else...there is the Latter Day Saints site and the Ellis island site...I have tons of links about all this stuff if you would like me to send them to you. Can you tell I love this family history stuff?? ;)

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

I'd love to have your links, if you'd like to send them! Thanks for the information, Danielle!

Lisa Gordon said...

A couple of years ago, I did this too.
I have no idea how much time I spent there, but i did end up joining , and for the next year, I cannot tell you how much time I spent there. It was a lot of fun, and at times very frustrating, as i thought i was on to something, and it ended up being a dead end, but I learned so much. Great experience!
Happy Sunday to you!
xo.