Monday, July 30, 2007

How to Not Knit without even Trying!

So my husband mentions to me Saturday morning that he's been doing some genealogy research on a site that offered him a free 2 week trial. "Oh," I reply, and proceed to casually meander over to the site. What I therein discover is a pure goldmine of data for the overly obsessive, Internet hooked mind. Literally millions of records to pour through including federal and state census records from the 1800's through 1930, military records, social security death records, and pre-existing ancestry links that have already been started. Endless I tell you.

To build your family tree requires a certain amount of reliance on existing family records, research into said family records, detective work and logical deduction... not to mention sacrificing sleep... and things become especially tricky if your dealing with ancestors near their time of immigration as name spellings are likely to change and eventually become unrecognizable "Americanized" names over a matter of years.

Now I was not raised by my natural father and though I know him well now, I still know almost nothing about my ancestry on that side. Would it have helped to know the names of my paternal grandparents? Sure. Did that stop me from wasting almost all of Saturday? Absolutely not.

In the end, I learned some fascinating information (getting a few names and dates from my dad on Sunday afternoon was really the turning point... oh, and the stories he told helped too... however the whole gathering information through verbal communication is much less seductive to my rather introverted obsessive mind).

I knew my maternal grandmother's side was Welsh but I didn't know that my paternal grandfather's family can be traced back to 1600 New York and beyond (England & Netherlands)... with only a splash of German and English along the way.

Most interesting to me however, was the discovery that I'm only 3rd generation American on my dad's side. My paternal great grandparents immigrated from Croatia in the early 1900's and my maternal great grandparents are Russian-Germans who immigrated around the same time. They were Gypsies. I'm feeling very exotic today (as well as having a much greater understanding why I have so many blond children as my husband is of English & German origin as well).

You can also click on a link to find famous relatives (which leads to more research and discussion on just what it means to be "once removed"... as in 7th cousin, 3 times removed). But the enthusiasm of finding out that you are related to, say, Jane Austen and Orville Wright, is quickly overcome when you notice the occasional married couple who share the same grandparents. (I like to assume a mistake has been made here... but not one that would disrupt my relationship to 4 preceding and 1 standing president.)

The visual treats include a picture of the pattern I am knitting with the Katia Jamaica (which I intend to wear with just as much attitude as the model) and some birthday treats from my pals who took me out to lunch today. Julie blessed me with the lovely little tote (which is just the right size for a small knitting project) and the beautiful beaded bowl from Kenya. Isn't it gorgeous?! And btw, Julie has been laughing at my ancestry obsession for the last 2 days so feel free to visit her blog and ask her when she's going to post again!
Tomorrow I should have pictures from an outing planned with some blog pals from out of town. I wonder if we'll visit yarn? Hmmm....

6 comments:

I love a Good Yarn said...

You shamed me into posting.

Angelika said...

Wow, finding out about your family past sounds interesting. I just know my family is pretty much German, maybe on the polish side? My husband's was probably on that little island of his until the Navy moved in. Sounds funny, doesn't it?

km said...

And at the end of the 2 week free trial, you'll be so hooked that you just MUST SIGN UP! I've thought of looking into our family trees, but maybe if I wait a few years I can make it a school project. I love the bowl from Kenya...I'm researching it a bit as a friend is going in September for a missions trip.

twig said...

I started genealogy one summber just to waste time before school started up again. That was 9 (Omigosh!) years ago. It's addictive.

Check with your local library's website. You may have at least limited access to ancestry.com through them for free.

Lydee said...

I found you through Julie's blog, who I found through Uberstrickenfrau's blog.... I may check out the genealogy site, but afraid I won't come up for air for a while!

uberstrickenfrau said...

Oh, yes! This is exactly what I need, another time hobby to completely put me over the edge. I think I will just save myself some stress and say I'm related to Queen Elizabeth, on my mothers side. :O)ok, maybe her dog pooper scooper instead.