I really struggled with this meme. I never knew any of my ancestors, not my grandparents on either side, not even my father. I knew my mother but it was a contentious relationship and not very “loving.” So who was I going to write about? I wanted, needed to continue to participate in this challenge but who? Then this morning I realized it is not “who” but “what.”
The research is what I love. The thrill of discovery, of knowing I used my “problem solving skills” to figure out where to look to find the elusive puzzle pieces of my ancestors lives.
In the early days of my research trolling through the census records on the old microfilm readers was tedious but still fun, always wondering if the next page or the next page would be the page where my person of interest would pop up on.
There are many “ah ha” moments I remember. One in particular was finally finding the probate record of Joseph Tilton in New Hampshire recorded in 1872. The search for this record was a culmination of many months of online research to determine his name and location. With this find, three or four more generations of ancestors were discovered. The Tilton line is a well researched family, I just needed to break down a brick wall to find it.
I love all the forms. In the “olden” days, while the babies napped, I would pull out all my family group sheets and fill in additional information I had found. I had and still have the LDS 15 Generation Pedigree Chart. I would pull out the chart, spread it out on the kitchen table and just look at all those names; people who had come before me who I was a part of. Maybe I would be lucky on a particular afternoon to be able to add one more ancestor to the chart. Then there were the census forms – which I still have. I would enter census information about all the different individuals of interest and try to create a manual database, comparing the various census years.
During this time I didn’t know about the GPS. I don’t think it had been developed yet. The concept of writing a proof summary was not something I was familiar with. Add to that there was no one who was remotely interested in my findings so it stayed in my head; all those facts and details hidden away in my papers.
Now in the 21st century after four decades of genealogical research I am trying to write, to share, to follow the GPS protocol. It is not an easy task. Where does one start after forty years? It’s hard to remember what I didn’t know when I started. It’s challenging to determine who I start with, who I write about and how I write about them.
I love the concept of creative non-fiction to share stories but as a professional genealogist, which is what I am, I feel l need the source citations so then I need a research report. However a research report needs a specific question with an hypothesis and then the results of research to answer that hypothesis. What do I use for a complete life story? How do I start that? I continue to grapple with these questions and I continue to write in whatever fashion I can to share both my research and my ancestors for anyone who might be remotely interested.