One of my favorite TV shows is "Who Do You Think You Are?". I've been hooked since the beginning because genealogy fascinates me. My two favorite episodes featured Vanessa Williams and Steve Buscemi.
Here's a picture of him - because while you might not recognize the name, I'm sure you'll recognize that face.
Depression and suicide ran wild through Steve Buscemi's family tree, while Vanessa Williams' tree was filled with educators and industrious people of integrity who strived to take the high road in overcoming difficulties. It just makes you think. What trends in your family tree should continue and what trends need to end?
Last summer I joined ancestry.com and got to work building my family tree. It's easy. All you need is a good internet connection and time. Every now and then I'll sit down for a quick family tree session, just planning to fill in a couple of little branches. Those "quick sessions" typically turn out to be not quick at all. Today I started at 9:00ish and next thing I know it's almost 2:00.
Navigating my way around the site was quite tricky at first, but I eventually learned all the tricks. The most important thing I figured out was that it's all about finding the parents.
I started with the relatives I knew. That was easy. I entered their information in the boxes in my tree. Then little green leaves started to grow from the corner of the boxes. Those leaves told me there was more information available about that person.
That information might be a census, a birth/death/marriage record, an emigration record, a picture, or just a story that someone out there in ancestry.comland took the time to tell. It was just a click away.
But the best records of all are the trees that have already been built by someone before me. If it weren't for those trees, I wouldn't be able to get anywhere with mine. If a person on my tree matches a person on someone else's tree, all I have to do is click on their information and it goes right to my tree. Thank you very much.
All I really want to know about any of my ancestors is who his/her parents were. My tree can only grow up if I can find the parents. And my, oh my, how it can grow. First, as you all might know, I have two parents. They each have two parents. That's six people. Each of them have two parents. That's eight more. Plus their parents - 16 more. Double that, then double that, then double that....5 or 15 times.
And I'm only searching for parents. I'm not including siblings at all. It's mind boggling!
Today I filled in one branch to my 15th great grandfather. His name was Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Elder. He was a moderately famous poet in King Henry VIII's court.
We want to make sure to not confuse him with his son, Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Younger. He led a rebellion against Queen Mary and got his head chopped off for it.
But thankfully not before he fathered Sir George Wyatt, my 13th great grandfather. Today I was able to keep filling in that branch back 26 generations to the year 1120.
I also learned about the Page family, my 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th great grandfathers.....and wealthy landowners in Colonial Virginia.
John Page, The Honorable Matthew Esquire Page, and The Honorable Mann Esquire Page.
They were pretty famous and powerful in their time. Three or four generations of them ruled the roost in Virginia.
The name Frances runs all over my tree. I think that's neat since my oldest sister is Frances.
My dad's and mom's side must have really liked the presidents because I've found two George Washington Timbys, a Millard Fillmore Timby, an Andrew Jackson Price, a Thomas Jefferson Lavender, and a Benjamin Franklin Price (yes, I know he wasn't a president).
Best Bible names go to Obediah and Hezekiah Page.
My favorite name so far is Sally Justice - born in Virginia in 1755 and date of death unknown. My mom's name is Sally and I have this mental image of her as "Sally Justice, Superhero".
I have yet to find any ancestor that didn't come from England. Every branch I've filled in goes the same way. My dad's side goes back close to 200 years in Arkansas, back about 200 more years in Virginia. All those people came from England. My mom's side goes back over 400 years in North Carolina and Virginia. Before that, they all were in England.
Knowing my English roots explains my passion for British period dramas. But I really was expecting to find a lot of people from Scotland. That would explain my affinity for all things Scottish -
the folklore... the kilts....
the music... the kilts....
the history... the...well, you know.
That DNA echo that resounds in all of us is strong. There are a lot of branches I haven't even started. Maybe the Scot I'm looking for is in one of those.