Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Are we there yet?

I hear you asking, “When does she get to the genealogy?” 

Well, you see, I began my genealogy in earnest just to keep my family straight in my head.  When you have a birth father, and adoptive father, and a step father; a birth mother, an adoptive mother, and two former step mothers, life gets a bit complicated.  My son now had more grandparents then he knew what to do with.  Not to mention that my ex, his father, had the usual set of two parents plus step parents.  To add to the bedlam, my current husband also had the requisite pair of parents. 

In case you’ve lost count that gave my son 14 grandparents.

If you count the sister I grew up with, I have 11 siblings.  Yes…an even dozen counting me.

So I started gathering information. 

My grandmother was still living and fairly active at 89 years old when I met her.  She was so excited to have someone to talk to about the family history.  One day I was asking her questions and she hesitated for a minute…she was trying to remember little details that no one had asked her about in a very long time.  I apologized saying, “I’m sorry grandma, you didn’t know there would be a test today did you?”  and she responded, without missing a beat, “If I had I would have studied.”  When I was questioning her about her first husband my nephew, Michael, was in the kitchen listening.  He was wide eyed and flabbergasted, he asked his great grandmother, “Grandma…you were married before?”  Michael’s  father stared at him and said, “Michael, what is her last name?”  “Higgens,”Michael replied.   “What is your grandfather’s last name?”  “Bennett.”  There was a short pause…. "OH!”  The things our family learns when we do genealogy!

Grandma Higgens introduced me to the Rhodes family.  This was her great claim to fame.  The Rhodes family helped rescue the Donner party.  They were a part of California history.  She was fifth generation Californian and proud of it. 

I became enamored of the Rhodes family and all the extend family.  I worked on this family for ten years.  I had them traced back to early New England (Massachusetts).  They didn’t come over on the Mayflower, they came over two ships later on the Anne. 

Tracing this family pushed me into a fascinating new world.  The world of genealogy.  I attended my first conference and decided I wanted to do this for a living.  My husband asked, “Can you make a living at it?”  I told him the truth, “Probably not.”  But that didn’t stop me. 

Finding out Dick wasn’t really my birth father did.

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