Genealogy is defined as the record, or account, of ancestry and descent of a person, family group and family histories.
I think Webster was wrong when he dreamed up that description! I have found, through my years of wanting to know more of my lineage, that it is much more than that. I’ve decided genealogy research is: 1) Like being a detective working on a “cold case”. A lot of the evidence has been destroyed, tampered with, and most of the eye witnesses are long gone. Yet you know a person existed or you wouldn’t be here. You also know that person’s life deserves to be remembered and recorded with the truth and dignity it deserves. 2) What Grandma Jones may have told you, may not indeed be fact, but stories passed down, gossip, or hearsay. The original story has often changed. So you set out to locate and record every Jones that may have lived near Grandma and determine if they are related to your “Jones Clan” and if the accounts handed down or fact or fiction.
It’s a jigsaw puzzle, crossword puzzle and a Rubik’s cube all rolled into one long search where you attempt to fill in the blanks, find the perfect fit and match all the squares. It is stomping through overgrown lots seeking hints of habitation of your ancestor one hundred or more years ago. It is countless hours of research, interviews, pouring over old records, photos and the internet hoping to find one small clue. It is visiting graveyards with maps, chalk, and camera in hand. And all the while you think there’s got to be a clue just around the corner, at the next courthouse, library, or museum. You are energized with the thought that, “Today’s the day I’ll find Grandpa Henry!”
Probably the most recent and exciting discovery I have made is, that while I may never have the Eureka! moment on Old Henry, I have found wonderful cousins along the way that I never knew existed. Such was the case when I recently connected with Susie Reynolds and Gary and Bessie Higginbotham. We have the same thirst to know more and share our discoveries. It was a fun day just to be in their company looking over photos, letters, and sharing stories of family members past and present. Had it not been for genealogy, I would never have made this connection.
My advice for anyone seeking to know more about their ancestors is to never quit on your search; never disregard any clue before proving it; never overlook those of the present while searching for your past! They may just be the jackpot you have been searching for.