Jun 15, 2011

A Hobby for Retirement? Dabbling in Genealogy

In a recent article on the AARP website the writer talked about how easy the Internet has made genealogy research. "Your Family History is Just a Click Away" was the name of the article. The article includes many links and lots of information. This what they had to say:
There's a bonanza on the Internet for anyone searching for their family roots.
As more records go online worldwide, a click of a mouse can take you back in time by hundreds of years in a matter of minutes via websites designed to help you hunt down your past.
I love it when a website like AARP does a lot of the hard work.  However, because my husband and I are nerds (all be it old nerds) we would rather do at least part of it ourselves.  Here what happened this last week.

Genealogy our way!
Genealogy is not my bag.  I just think "let sleeping dogs sleep" and I can not even remember what my Great Grandmother's first name was.  I'm funny that way.  My husband, on the other hand, has been dabbling around with it for quite a while.  He is curious and I suspect he has always been looking for a jailbird in my background. Then he found a little golden key hidden within the cemetery records of the Baker City, Oregon. When you type Baker City Cemetery in the google search a web site called Access Genealogy comes up. He began following the pathway it opened for him. 

Eventually he was led to a website was called Find a Grave where serious genealogist, usually family members, can post a virtual memorial and pictures of grave sites along with photos and synopsis of the information about the person and their ancestors. There is also a page that will allow you to see the comments and exchange of idea that have gone into the research. It is very interesting and it was all free...my husband liked that a lot!  

All the research had been done for him and he found answers to my families ancestry going back to 1715 on the Find a Grave website. It seems that a cousin of mine several generations removed had done a great deal of research into the family. It was like a family tree just grew up in the front yard.

If you are a reader and love a really good story, I think you would love this hobby. I found the information on my grandfather's ancestors just fascinating. They are not famous or related to the king but they were remarkable in their own way.  For example,  Pheobe, wife of my great grandfather Isaac Boyle was a very strong willed and unbendable woman. She married Issaac Boyle when she was 15 and he was 40.  She managed to get herself arrested by the county constable and her daughter was arrested at the same time. My grandfather left her when he was 70 years old. She was buried far from the rest of the family in the community cemetery.  Like my cousin that did the research, I too wondered "What was that all about?" Great Grandmother Phoebe, what were you really like?

One of my great grandfather's son's, my grandfather's brother, was named Joseph Lane Boyle. It is possible he was called after Joseph Lane, the man Lane county and Lane Community College is named for. Lane was the governor of Oregon Territory and after a lifetime of politics, retired in Roseburg, Oregon. Roseburg is located just north of Canyonville, Oregon. Because Issac Boyle was one of the first settlers/explorers around Canyonville and they were contemporaries, it seemed entirely possible that the two men may have known each other. At any rate, I love the idea that there could have been a connection

I will leave the genealogy to the true history lovers. As for me I love filling in the gaps with what I imagine might have been. WOW!

Are you interested?
Are you interested in looking at your family tree?  This may be something you should look into.  I think that we need to keep learning all through our lives. Many retirees are seeking SOMETHING to engage their minds. Genealogy could be a very interesting hobby. I have a friend that has traveled all over the United States digging through court house records and newspapers to find out about her family. She sees it as a treasure hunt and who wouldn't like to do that?  She has collected a serious amount of information.

Sometimes we are just curious about the past but don't want to turn it into a full time obsession. I am finding that many many others are doing the work for us and love to share that information. My husband did email my distant cousin and her reply gave us permission to print and share the information with our children. We thought it was common courtesy to just say "please" and "thank you".  

Links for beginners: 

How toGetting Started on about.com. WhereFind a Grave Lots of LinksGenealinks  App for ipad/iphoneAncestry (free on itunes)
Family TreeTech tips
Family TreeTech tips  LDS church. We are not LDS but I do know that the church has accumulated a great deal of information and you can go to their website to link with that library data base. I think Family Search is part of that group.14 day free trialAncestry.com       AARP:  Relationship/Genealogy

Have fun with this...I know I certainly did. And leave a comment to let me know what you have done in this area.

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