Sunday, April 27, 2008

Family Connections

In America, most of us who call ourselves Americans are really immigrants. Whether we're from some where in Europe, Asia, the Middle East or somewhere else in the world our histories are carried to this place of the immigrants. On the East Coast, Ellis Island was a door through which many families first wrote their name on the tree of this growing forest of America's new and growing family.

Many who landed new near Lady Liberty found homes within or just outside the grand city of New York, but many kept moving spreading through this expansive country we now all call home. My own history began in two areas of Europe - Sweden and Ireland, with stops to pick up relatives from Wales and the Netherlands as well of course.

Many of us know our histories, but many of us have always lived with only the knowledge of parents, grandparents and siblings but know little of those who came before us. Five years ago my mother-in-law put a yellowed wedding announcement into my hand and asked me to connect the dots for her.

I began online like many these days, but found only tantalizing bits of information - only really basic family connections but no real information. So, where does that budding genealogist turn for information and connections with those long lost ancestors? It actually began in the bowels of a local library. The smells of the old documents filled the basement space as I cranked through roll after roll of microfiche with newspapers from the period. As I began this impossible search, here I was hopeful since the bride had been born here!

My first hit on information was only a bit, but it gave a place to look for more - Washington State. For heaven sakes! I couldn't just go there, so where to begin was the question? Through the librarian there at the library I made the connection to the genealogical society in the specific area I was looking for information. After sending off a few emails and making some contacts they were going to help on some of the spots where they didn't have the information online locally yet. With that information I also began looking through what the society did have online.

After months of searching and digging through the dusty files and online I began to put together the beginnings of a history that was fascinating. This touch of research has really wet my appetite and I've really only begun the search. When will I be done? Who knows! I'm on my way to discovering connections to the old world, so I'm getting revved up for the next phase of my history treasure hunt!

For me, this is the beginnings of family connections - a connection that began long ago and connects the dots to where beginnings actually happened. What began in the late 70s with the first of the yearnings for discovering those personal histories has continued right up to today through my personal search. I love this hunt for historical pieces of my personal life picture!

No comments: