How I Began My Genealogy

I started working on my genealogy around 1976 while in elementary school. It was the bicentennial and my grandmother, Mimi (Marie Elizabeth FORD), was telling me that we had a Revolutionary War patriot in our tree, Captain Samuel Lockwood of Greenwich. She eventually admitted she was descended from him twice as her grandparents were third cousins, documented on some paperwork she had never sent to the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution)!

At ten years old, having a revolutionary war patriot and later learning a secret of distant cousins getting married, I was hooked.

First genealogy books
Getting Started Books

I eventually bought a book called “Digging for My Roots” by Michael Scheier and Julie Frankel at the Scholastic Book Fair at my school. I also bought “Finding Your Roots” by Jeane Eddy Westin and “How to Trace Your Family History” by Bill R. Linder from a local book store. These books taught me how to record genealogical information and I started designing my own pedigree chart and family group sheet templates that my parents dutifully photocopied at their respective workplaces.

This was my first foray into genealogy. I was copying, re-copying, and re-copying again information from a published genealogy and family bible that Mimi kept in their apartment while sitting at their dining room table (which now sits in my dining room). I collected some information from Poppy (William Henry JONES, Jr.) on his parents and cousins on his mother’s side (he didn’t like talking about his father’s extended family). I received a descendant chart from Grandma (Margaret Josephine GLINKA) on her siblings and all their children and grandchildren. I had almost nothing on my other grandfather (John Floyd LOCKE) who had died the year before I was born. To be honest, the sheer volume of information on Mimi’s family which reached to the founding of Stamford and Greenwich in the Colony of Connecticut was overwhelming.

In the 1980’s, I got my first personal computer and started using Personal Ancestral File to re-copy all the information yet again. This was my second journey into my family history. I quickly moved from Personal Ancestral File to Commsoft’s Roots III and IV, but college and early work life stalled my endeavors.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I found myself traveling for work almost constantly. Four things had changed in my genealogical life. My software was defunct; I had learned I needed to “source” my data; had census images online; I now had children to pass this along to. I installed Wholly Genes’ The Master Genealogist on my laptop and began my third attempt at genealogy.

Those years found me frantically searching for new records. Organization was something I would take care of later. I had numerous breakthroughs and stories I was discovering. I traced Grandpa back to early colonial New Hampshire. I connected to the Palatine Germans that arrived in 1709/10. I found the origin of my northern Irish roots. Some of these breakthroughs were found online, but many were found by visiting repositories throughout the northeast. I was even volunteering for local genealogical societies (or perhaps I should admit to over-volunteering).

My genealogical life had reams and reams of paper and two full size bookshelves surrounding me in my basement office. I was suffocating. I had stopped traveling and my work life was in that same basement office. The mountain of my genealogical research made it easier to simply turn my chair to work all the time. I was putting all my “genealogical time” into volunteering and was making little to no progress on my personal genealogy. I took a hiatus from genealogy for most of five years.

This brings me to the launch of my fourth expedition into genealogy. It actually began by attending the fifteenth New England Regional Genealogical Conference in Manchester, NH, April 3-6, 2019. I focused on sessions that talked about organization, digitization, and new techniques. But honestly, the best part of attending that conference was hearing the speakers and other genealogists tell me I wasn’t alone. That many of us procrastinate and run down the rabbit holes of collecting sources and data without managing what we collect. But there are strategies that I learned. Some from the official syllabus materials, but also by talking to fellow attendees and the wonderful speakers who always enjoyed sharing their knowledge and experience even after their lecture was done.

So, a few months after that conference and to keep me honest, I am starting this blog to accomplish several things:

  1. Define a schedule of progress by regularly creating new posts here.
  2. Break off manageable pieces of the mountain of research I have collected.
  3. Share the tips and tricks I am trying to put into practice – the successes, failures, and missteps.

But, I do believe most importantly, this blog will allow me to share the stories I have discovered with my family (and others) as I wade through and bring that mountain down to size. Wish me luck on this next step in my genealogical pursuits!

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