About a year ago, in attempt to locate a misplaced stock certificate, I came across a few boxes my mom sent to me in 2001. These boxes contained pictures, documents, letters, even a slide projector and several slides. Needless to say, I got sidetracked from looking for that stock certificate (which has since been found) and started combing through the treasure chest of family history.
I knew that I was somehow related to Noah Webster "father of the dictionary" and with all of these puzzle pieces now at my fingertips, I was intrigued to find out how we were related. Luckily for me, my dad and my great-granduncle had already compiled a family tree tracing back John Webster born in 1590 in England. However, who I didn't find in this tree was Noah, thus beginning my genealogical endeavor.
As I searched for the connection to Noah, I began to realize I needed to capture the information I was finding in order to make sense of it all. Since I’m a techie, I turned to a software solution, trying various specialized genealogical database programs until I found one that suited me. Entering all these nuggets of priceless info, I was able to determine just how Noah and I are in fact related—he is my third cousin eight times removed (try figuring that one out without a program to do it for you!). In simpler terms, we share a common ancestor; my 10th great-grandfather was his 2nd great-grandfather.
While working on this, I became so involved in the branches, twigs, leaves, and berries of the tree that I found myself going every which way I could collecting and entering information along the way. I began to follow established guidelines for documenting and sourcing genealogical information, essentially taking what was a simple quest to find one connection, to a whole different level—true family history research.
Today, one year after my journey began, I’m 6,500+ relatives strong, going back 21 generations on my dad’s side. I have gotten more serious about my newfound passion and recently joined the National Genealogical Society and the Illinois State Genealogical Society. I plan to continue my research and use this blog to share biographical sketches of my relatives, interesting finds, and anything else that strikes my fancy as I wander along on this journey.
Originally posted @ my LiveJournal blog on 29 July 2008.