Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The trigger That Started It All

From Randy Seaver’s GeneaMusings: Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) What was the "trigger," that started you actively researching your family history and genealogy?

So, I’m way behind on these challenges, but I will do at least a few as I catch up with things around here after traveling.

Growing up I was always around older people. Most of my relatives that I knew, were not children, but of my parents’ generation or older. Being the youngest child in the family by a number of years, this meant that I often heard stories of “the old days.” However, this did not trigger an interest in family history or doing genealogy.

In tenth grade we had a time period when our English class combined somewhat with our Social Studies class. We were reading literature that had to do with the local area and delving into the history of the Finger Lakes region of New York State. One of the Social Studies teachers came to our English class and did a presentation on family history. We had an assignment to trace our families back, hopefully to the great-grandparent level and identify what nationality they were.

Working on this project, I asked my Dad when his parents were born. He didn’t know. He never kept track of such things, and they were long dead anyway. Well, one thing Dad did enjoy was going for a ride in the countryside. Thinking quickly, I asked: “Dad, aren’t their birthdates on their tombstones?” Just like that we were off for a ride around the lake and to the rural cemetery where they are buried. As I was copying information down, he wandered up the row and pointed out his grandparents and mentioned that his great-grandparents were buried over by the fence. If I had to pinpoint a time when I was hooked on genealogy, I would say it was that afternoon.

One day when I was in my mid-30s, I was researching. I was at the Cayuga Owasco Lakes Historical Society in Moravia trying to find newspaper and other such articles to fill in some of the more social information about these grandparents I had never met. A man was there working on pulling some original documents to be used in his classroom. I looked at him again and realized—it was the Social Studies teacher that had presented to my class over 15 years ago. I made myself known to him and showed him what I was working on including the database on my laptop. I jokingly said to him: “It’s a little late, but here is my assignment you gave us.” He groaned and laughed. “What did I start?”

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