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Shaking the Family Tree (youngsters:non fiction, 1243 words)
Author: Lou HillAdded: Apr 19 2002Views/Reads: 2004/855Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Searching for ancestors produces some interesting stories
 



SHAKING THE FAMILY TREE 

Webster defines genealogy as 1; "an account of the descent of a person,
family or group from an ancestor or from older forms" or 2; "the study 
of family pedigrees."  There is no mention made of the fact that 
tracing ones roots, or as Mr. Webster said  "studying family pedigrees" 
quickly becomes an addiction.  Maybe that's what he meant by descent of 
a person 

Based on the symptoms that I am exhibiting, I seem to have been bitten
by the genealogy bug and have been infected with a severe case of 
ancestor fever.  I am afraid that, unfortunately, I am nowhere near 
reaching the breaking point of that fever 

I avidly scan an already over full schedule to see when I can find
enough time to spend a few moments trying to locate the grave of a 
several times great-grandfather in a cemetery in South Hero.  Can I 
leave for my job at the Burlington Airport a few hours early so that I 
can spend an hour or two at the Alburg Town Clerks office checking the 
records for a newly discovered ancestor?  When I have the rare evening 
off on a Wednesday or Thursday night, I seriously consider a trip to 
the Family History Center at the Church of Latter Day Saints in Berlin 
to spend a few hours surfing through their computer records hoping to 
find another name that will provide a foothold which will allow me to 
climb to the next branch of my tree. 

Fortunately for the preservation of my marriage my wife, Gwen, has
become infected by the same bug.  She is perfectly content to spend 
hours straining her eyes to read the microfilmed records at the Family 
History Center.  On our first trip there, she found a significant 
amount of new information on her ancestors which gave her several new 
lines and areas to research.  It also increased her feelings of 
frustration when she found that one of her ancestors, Peleg Sprague, 
had numerous wives and a son also named Peleg thus adding to the 
confusion. 

Like me, Gwen has suffered the effects of the "Burned Records" syndrome.
 When trying to find a copy of her great-grandfather Nash's application 
for admission to the UVM Medical School, she was told that all the 
records had burned in a fire.  I have been stymied by the incineration 
of the records of the Towns of Milton and Georgia.  I have been told by 
veteran genealogy buffs that this is a common occurrence and in many 
instances is a legitimate excuse given by those responsible for 
records.  However in some cases it is used to disguise the lack of 
desire or the knowledge to find certain records. 

I must be quick to add that almost everyone I have encountered when
researching records has been extremely helpful and courteous.  Town 
Clerks in particular have been very helpful, often interrupting what 
they were doing to get a volume from the records for me.  Procedures 
vary from town to town.  Some Town Clerks will give you a master index 
of vital statistics and then get each individual volume of records that 
you require.  Others will point you at the records and say "Have at 
it." A few make a minimal charge for research, others don't charge at 
all.  Regardless, I always get more than my moneys worth. 

I am a tyro in the genealogy game.  I started serious research only
about a year ago.  Just when I get cocky and think I have done well 
because I can trace back to my twenty five times great grandfather in 
the late 11th century, I get put in my place.  A few weeks ago I was at 
the LDS Family History Center, chatting with one of the volunteers 
there. She mentioned that she had been able to do some work on her 
family tree that day, indicating a huge loose-leaf binder about eight 
inches thick, on the desk behind her.  I commented that she ought to 
put it in a computer.  "Oh but it is." she said.  "These are printouts 
of all the various family groups in my genealogy." "Just how far back 
can you trace your history?" I asked.  Her answer: "To Adam." 

Recently a friend asked "Why bother tracing so far back?" A fair
question, one that has many answers and one, which made me, do quite a 
bit of self-examination.  Why do I do it? 

Probably one of the main reasons is the challenge. While it is far
easier to trace ones roots in this age of readily accessible 
information, computers, the "Information Highway" and all that jazz, as 


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