As we enter the week of the FREE RootsTech Connect conference, so many people are adding names to their trees on Family Search and linking them up with others’ so they can find Relatives at RootsTech. Until yesterday I had the magnificent total of TWO, though I was pretty excited to get a half 8th cousin once removed through my Kunkel line. The closest I’ve found is a 3rd cousin who I also have a DNA match with. Sadly, most of the others come in at the 8th or 9th cousin range.
All this had led me to reflect, not for the first time I must say, on why I pursue this hobby, and why I’ve become obsessed with it for 35 years. I’m sure I’m not alone in hearing these comments from non-genies:
Q: How far back have you gone? A: I don’t care about “far back”
Q: Have you found any scandals? A: a few but just part of the many stories
Q: Aren’t you finished yet? A; Umm, no.
So why do I do it? It’s not to follow the genealogy trail of many names and relationships back indefinitely. I find just the names and dates very boring and ho-hum. What I’m searching for is the stories of my ancestors’ lives: where they lived, for how long, what may have caused them to emigrate, what joys and happiness did they have, what challenges did they face and how did they overcome them.
Some years ago, I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t find records to take ancestors back another generation or two – a common experience for those with Irish ancestry, sadly. Ultimately, I realised that I could be satisfied so long as I could find their “home place”[i] where they lived for generations. I wanted to know what happened to their descendants, not just my direct ancestors. Did they remain close geographically or did they disperse around the world, perhaps to the same country or perhaps in different hemispheres?
There’s long been debates about the difference between the terms genealogist and family historian. It’s my focus on the stories of my ancestors and their lives, that makes me call myself a family historian.
I’d love to make connections with kin who are related to me, to discuss what they know about their branches of the family and perhaps that genea-gold of photos or family bibles. Meanwhile I’m happy sharing some of my families’ stories on this blog and documenting them where I hope later generations may find them. In a belt-and-braces exercise I download my blog posts annually find them and annually I download them with Blog2Print and have promised to haunt anyone who destroys or discards these records.
If you want to know more about the RootsTech Connect conference and how everything is going to work, you can check out the posts from some of my genimates who are Ambassadors. It’s worth looking at, because (1) it’s FREE (2) it’s truly world-wide this year (3) there are many inspirational keynotes and hundreds of knowledgeable speakers (4) there are presentations in different languages. So go for it, check out what these genimates have to say:
And thanks to Facebook, and Australia’s media moguls and government, this blog cannot be shared on Facebook pages now as it’s deemed to have news content. You can follow me via Feedly or on Twitter @cassmob. Ask Aussie bloggers, and many others, just how happy they are to be unable to share their history stories, community news or genealogy society news with their friends and genimates.
[i] What Indigenous Australians call “country” and Papua New Guineans call “ars ples bilong en”.