“History remembers only the celebrated,
genealogy remembers them all.”
I love sewing, crocheting, and taking care of my family and home. But on my off days, I like to sit down with a ton of paper and learn the stories of my ancestors. Yes, they’ve been dead for years, but I feel like I bring them back to life. So much of my family tree has already been traced by previous generations (see where I get it from?), so when Mr. Cozy Cottage and I started dating I got permission to trace his. He loves history and loves telling stories from his generation, his father’s generation, and his grandfather’s generation. He grew up hearing them passed down from old to young, at least a dozen times. I soon discovered there were some traits in his family line that were predominate. Whether they’re hereditary or learned, I couldn’t tell you, but it’s hilarious to see him act just like his ancestors that he’s never even met. I’ve honestly fallen in love with him so much more now that I’ve “met” his family.
For me, genealogy is fun. It’s an absorbing hobby. Since discovering that he has a strong Viking line, we’ve determined the theme of our wedding is “heritage”, throwing in some Norse and Celtic wedding elements to symbolize both of us. But there are many reasons to research your family tree.
Most people can track their health through their parents and grandparents. Many medical conditions are hereditary, including diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and even thyroid disease. But looking back even further you can discover health issues during pregnancy, the dominance of male or female babies, and fertility. You can even discover a history of mental illness through diary entries, hospital records, and death certificates.
Why You Do What You Do
I have never met Mr. Cozy Cottage’s father. He passed about 15 years ago, long before he and I met. His small family consists of his mother, his brother, and his son. There are other family members out there, but they are distant. Those family rifts are kind of a doozy. He comes from a long line of what I like to call “heavy duty men.” They were farmers, construction workers, railroad workers. They liked their drink, they played as hard as they worked, and they were good at most anything they could get their hands on. I’ve traced his line back to 9oo AD, and even then they were conquering cities, building forts, and fighting off attackers. We may not have to worry about conquering Dublin again, but his family still acts like they are. Every physical activity, whether it’s putting in a garden, working on a vehicle, trimming limbs, or building a cabinet, they do a thorough job – and in record time.
You are Who You Are because of Who They Were
Personality traits. Some say they are a learned behavior. Some say people are born with it. It’s the Nature vs. Nurture argument. I personally believe it’s a little bit of both. My father’s side of the family is full of hot heads. I’m pretty sure I got that honest. And we’re great at picking up on all the details that others miss. I just don’t think that can be taught. On the flip side, Mr. Cozy Cottage -and his father, and his grandfather, and his great grandfather (you see where I’m going with this)- are all wickedly intelligent, but they didn’t learn it from any book. I can talk at length with him on any topic – history, art, science – but I guarantee you that he never earned so much as a ‘B’ in any of those classes. Watching his teenage son, he’s the same way (although he does get decent grades). And I’ve gotten confirmation from my mother-in-law that his father was the same as well. There are a lot of personality traits that we don’t even think about that our ancestors possessed too.
Find Your Family
My mother-in-law was adopted. She has a few things from the adoption process, but has had no luck in tracking down who her birth parents are. Neither have I. The state of New York keeps a tight lid on their adoption records, even if you’re the one that’s adopted. I guess that’s good, but in Mom’s case it kinda stinks. However, some people use genealogy to track down their long lost family. But use with caution. Digging up records that are 60 years old can bring up some yucky family secrets that have been hidden for generations.
The Best History Lesson is the One You’re a Part Of
As you trace your genealogy, you learn about the person. Very often you run across a historical event that may have altered the course of their life. Does the same year keep popping up on a lot of your death dates? I kept wondering why and finally discovered a terrible earthquake in the city of New Madrid, Missouri, that happened that year. It was a huge tragedy for the area and spurred a lot of offspring to move to Texas, Arkansas, and Florida. Hence the reason Mr. Cozy Cottage has a LOT of family he’s never met, as opposed to my father’s family who has pretty much stayed in Georgia their entire lives. It’s interesting to find out about floods, swarms of locusts, or even major historical events that your ancestor was a part of.
The reasons people start tracing their family tree are as varied as the people themselves, but no less important than another. It is a time consuming, tedious process, and many researchers end up passing on their information to the next generation when they pass because there is just so much to look for. Your family tree will never be done. There will always be something more to research, another ancestor before them, and then, of course, your generation is still adding to the tree.
If you’re thinking about getting started, Ancestry offers a 14-day free trial, and their basic memberships are only $20 a month. If you aren’t ready to commit to that just yet, you can start a free family tree and research your tree using FamilySearch. It’s run by the Latter Day Saints, but they have info on everyone and everything.
If you’ve got any questions, feel free to comment below! I’ll try to answer as many as possible, or direct you to where you can find your answer. Happy researching!