Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Roots (and Yours) from the Ground Up...

Yesterday I did something that I have been wanting to do for ages, which is to meet with one of the Family History Consultants from church to learn more about researching my ancestors on the computer.  What a fascinating experience!  This is something I definitely want to do again.

Meeting with an LDS Family History Consultant is a service available to anyone who is interested in genealogy.   Because this lovely lady is a friend, she felt comfortable coming to my house and guiding me on my own computer for about 2 hours.  But there are Family History Libraries ALL over the place, which are open to the pubic, along with the expertise of someone who can help you--free of charge.

By the time Carol left, I was tired, but I felt so jazzed and like I had accomplished a lot.  We began at the site and proceeded from there.  Even though the genealogical work in my family has been spotty, it is probably still more than in a lot of families.  After learning the basics, I was able to see my family tree emerge right before my eyes.  I've had my maternal grandpa and uncles on both sides do some family history, but a lot of what I saw was also the product of others like me who have set aside a few minutes here and there to do indexing.  As I mentioned in another post, indexing is entering data on from old records such as census sheets, war registrations, birth and death certificates, etc.

(Click on any image to see the full-sized version)

As I clicked on the little brown arrows that you see in the image above, I saw more and more generations appear.  Before I knew it, I was 12 generations back on my paternal grandmother's line.  Because I have a rare copy of a book on family history in this line (the Bunn line,) I was able to verify whether some of this information was correct.

If you're LDS, you also understand the eternal significance of this kind of work, because we believe in forever families when the proper work has been done in temples.  That is the main purpose of temples, to seal families together for eternity.  Since first going to the temple in 1992, I have always gone through for a deceased person that I did not know.  This is still very important, because I discovered that a lot of my family's temple work was already done because of the efforts of others.  Still, I have always wanted to go through for a relative of my own.

My first step was to look up my mother's parents, both of whom passed away in 2008.  I discovered that their temple work was 100% ready to do, but none had been done.  This is something I want to pursue.

A picture of my great grandmother and her 4 daughters.  My grandmother is 2nd from the right. 

 A famous family picture--the 7 sisters of one of my great-great grandfathers (great aunts to my great-grandmother in the photo above it.)

I love both of these pictures.  For some reason, I feel very bonded to the women in my family on both my mother's and father's sides.  Perhaps it is because there is a special closeness between women and between sisters that I see in both of these images.

Family history can definitely feel overwhelming.  It is a pursuit that we all know is important, but it also feels like there is no conclusion.  It feels this way, but it isn't necessarily true.  I never wanted to even try researching my family history when I was teaching because the idea of being engaged in 2 exhausting activities sounded really unattractive.  But one of the realizations I came to yesterday was that with the right guidance you can accomplish more than you think you can.  

If you are LDS and want to not only research your family, but also want to see what temple work has been done for them, that carries its own set of responsibilities.  (Especially if you are the only temple-attending person in your whole family, like me.)  And that is fine.  It IS our responsibility.  I think that is why I was so incredibly relieved to see much more work had been done than I ever expected, some of it way before I was born.

One set of  great-great-great grandparents on my paternal grandmother's line.  Lucy Hollister Bunn and Delavan Bunn.  Amazingly, all of their temple work was done decades ago.  By who, I don't know.

So it was great to have a really solid jumping off point!  I got the same tingling feeling that I got on the day that I opened up a box of family photos from my dad's mother that I had never seen before back in 2005.  All of  black and white stern faces where in there, staring back up at me, and yet, I didn't feel like they were strangers.  If anything, I felt an instant connection.

There is something incredibly special about learning more about your ancestors.  We all long to be a part of a group, and what better group to belong to than a family?  Each has its own history, its own special stories, its own role in America or other country, and even its own shame.  All of these things helped to shape them and, therefore, helped to shape their decisions.  Eventually, they help to shape us.  If this is something that you are even remotely interested in, I urge you to pursue it.  Your local family history consultants are waiting to help you!  Heck, you might even find out that you're related to my family, and I think they are pretty cool.

If you are ready to start, click HERE to see where you can get free and very willing help.  You will be amazed at what you find.

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