5 Generations of Beauty
You may have noticed the consistent flow of Genealogy commercials on Television lately. And why not? We all want to know who & where we came from. However, it can be disappointing and defeating when we reach out to the myriad of services offering to find your past. I recently was blessed with information, ancestral pictures and re-connections with family long ago lost. I can't begin to tell you the pleasure I take in looking at the wonderful pictures and into those beautiful faces and feeling the energy and history connected to them.
Self described Southern Cali Genealogist, Geralyn L Morris, shares her experience and valuable knowledge with us as she Journeys through the history of her own family. The information she discovered without spending a dime is not only encouraging but definitely inspirational.
1. Geralyn what got you interested in doing Genealogy?
In 2000 I was in school and one of my professors gave me an assignment to interview a relative either one generation above me or one generation below me. I chose to interview my grandmother. Her responses fascinated me so much that I wanted to know more. Even though she had raised me, I felt like that was beginning of me really getting to know her. My grandmother was 9 years old when her mother died and she didn’t know a lot about her family. I found so much information on the internet and every time I shared the information with my grandmother, it brought us closer to one another.
2. What kind of surprises have you found while doing your searches?
There were many, many surprises. I found out that my grandmother had 2 older siblings that died in infancy. I found out that one of her brothers was actually a junior. Her brother Alfred was actually born Jesse A. Handy, Jr. but over time his name became Alfred Lawrence Handy. I don’t think he even knew what his birth name was. I found this information via Census Records.
3. How long does the average search take?
LOL. I don’t think there is such a thing as “the average” search. There are times when I search for less 15 minutes and find information and then there have literally been times when I’ve searched for 8 to 10 hours straight and didn’t find any useful information. It just depends on what records you are searching and what information is available.
4. What is the feeling like when you make a connection?
Oh wow, talk about a rush! It is the greatest feeling of accomplishment. In the past, every time I found new information I would immediately call my grandmother and we would both get so excited.
5. What if any changes has doing Genealogy made in your own life?
It has truly given me a sense of belonging and a desire to leave a positive impact on future generations. Everything I write I think of how it will be interpreted 50 plus years from now. I try to be very careful to leave accurate information. I think sometimes I annoy family members because they may want to list a nick name as their name or add someone to the family tree as a child or sibling that is not a blood relative. I would still add that person if they are related by marriage but I would use their correct family connection. If the person is not related by blood or marriage, unfortunately, I would not add them to our family tree because that would not be accurate and may be confusing in the future.
6. What advice would you give to people who want to start a search or use a service to locate ancestors?
First I would say, don’t pay anyone to search for you. When you do the work yourself you get a great sense of accomplishment. Plus, when you interview family members you will forge a lifelong bond that you may not have had otherwise. I would also say, be patient. Genealogy research takes time and does not always produce immediate results but don’t give up. Last I would say don’t disregard any piece of information no matter how insignificant it may seem. Being a genealogist is like being a detective. An old store receipt might eventually help you discover where an ancestor lived. An elderly relative retelling that story of how she came to California in the 1940’s on a train to go to your great uncle’s funeral might help you find out when and where that uncle died which could lead you to his death certificate which could lead you to his parents, number of siblings, etc.
Thank you so much Geralyn for your time and this wonderful bit of inspiration. Life is good!
**Tip - Keep a Journal of your Journey back through time. You may even surprise yourself and keep a history for future generations is a wonderful gift!
Here are some Links that may provide you with a starting point and/or information to get you pointed in the right direction:
http://www.genealogy.org/ -(offers a free 14 day trial)
http://www.familysearch.org/eng/default.asp Says it offers Free History and other records
http://www.usgenweb.org/ Free History
These are only a few of the services out there. Remember to carefully review these and all sites before submitting information. So only go so far before payment is required to continue.