Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Ancestral Tree On a Slow Simmer

I grew up in an old two story farmhouse that had seven bedrooms, four of which where on the ground floor. Since there were only four of us in my family and my parents shared a room, there really wasn't a need for the upstairs and it was shut off and used for storage. As a child on slow weekend afternoons, I used to go up into the 'attic' as we called it and snoop around through all the boxes of stuff. I was probably around nine years old when I found it.

'It' was a piece of plywood board that had been varnished and attached to the front were a half dozen pages. The first page had a family tree, or branch if you will, of the Abbey clan up through the male ancestors. It went back to my third great grandfather. Although not a blood descendent of the Abbey's, I instantly realized for the first time at how many people influenced who I was and yet I knew nothing of them. At the time, I still had all my grandparents alive and two great grandparents but beyond that, I didn't know any.

My great uncle had been the one to do the genealogical work on the Abbey clan and according to the story because he was long dead before I knew him, he had been obsessed with genealogy. He spent decades tracking down various branches of the family tree. Perhaps it is this time commitment that scared me away from genealogy until a couple decades later when I was bitten by the bug for the second time. When I was bitten by the bug, I turned to the computer.

Computers revolutionized many aspects of our lives to great extent but they completely flipped the genealogy world over. I found a few sites and within about a half hour, I had been able to recreate the genealogical journey that had taken my great uncle over twenty years. I could visit courthouse records thousands of miles away without ever leaving my chair. I could see every federal census without going to some library in the state capital and sorting through reels of microfilm. I was awed and my family tree started filling in… fast.

Life interrupted me and I put my genealogy research on the back burner. Actually in the refrigerator would be a more correct saying. Recently, I have taken it out and but it on the back burner where it simmers and when I have a few minutes of 'free' time, I see if I can search out somebody else. Two of these people were the parents of my great grandmother Ramie who nobody seemed to remember and whose death I blogged about awhile ago. They were the last of my 16 great-great grandparents that I had not yet identified. I finally did yesterday and will blog more about that in the near future.

For now, my family tree is slowly growing and is up to 181 direct ancestors. I used to keep track of all my ancestral relatives including brothers of direct ancestors and their offspring but my database was up to almost 10,000 people and it was getting very confusing keeping track of everyone. So I started a new database and decided to just focus on my direct ancestors. They are after all, the ones involved in creating me.

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