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Is it normal to become quite obsessed with your ancestors?

(64 Posts)
WhyDidIEatThat Wed 24-Oct-18 10:55:22

Asking for a friend. But it is quite normal isn’t it?

butterfly56 Thu 25-Oct-18 00:38:55

I started my family tree not thinking for one minute there would be stories about the difficult lives they had only going back one and two generations.
People being widowed in their early 20's(the husband dying from a broken leg). Remarrying a widower whose wife had died in childbirth at 20.
My great-grandmother being age 9 when both parents died within weeks of one another and she was looked after by 2 older sisters 18 and 20 who worked as paper bag makers.

Some of the stories were really sad, and some were funny. No scandals but a few surprises.

The only thing I cannot find is my great-grandfather's birth certificate...born in 1873(death certificate give his d.o.b.). He was jewish so he could have come from anywhere and the only problem is he has a really common surname so that's a dead end.

I have found it really interesting and I feel that in a way researching their ancestry has in some way made sure they are not forgotten.

I did go to Belgium to visit the Menin Gate(2names) and Tyne CoteCemetery(1 name) where 3 great uncles aged 18, 19, 21 their names appear on the walls...there are no graves for them as their bodies were never found.

That trip had a profound effect of me and will stay with me forever flowers

WhyDidIEatThat Thu 25-Oct-18 00:50:55

Butterfly 💐

The only ancestral thing that’s really properly broken my heart so far came via one of the dna circles that just popped up one day. 3rd gt grandma, Cherokee, photographed with 3rd gt grandpa in ? 1830 something. Really exciting because as far as I know it’s rarely possible to pinpoint Native American dna, it just gives massive regions. Mine says ‘north, central and south’ and colours in the whole entire continent. So it was fantastic to have a face and a name, her tribe, a list of descendants on the census roll thing etc etc but the more I read about it the worse it became. Not particularly for her, as far as I know, but other men in the family also married Cherokee women - after being so careful to keep marrying within the same families for like 200 years? I knew Cherokees were matrilineal but I didn’t know that meant women owned the houses and, crucially, the land. So those greedy fuckers, these specific individuals, who already had so much land married these women to secure more. And the women married them to escape the trail of tears, which obviously in a way that’s a better outcome. And it’s not that there’s any evidence these marriages were any worse or better than the ones before, it’s these women coming from a society of gender equality going into this system which ultimately excluded them from all power. I don’t think it sounds so bad written down like this but it feels horrible.

This is a better description:

WhyDidIEatThat Thu 25-Oct-18 12:22:06

Bit morbid but anyone else ever find themselves thinking about how they’ll be an ancestor one day and wondering what their descendants will infer from whatever info survives?

Worldweary Thu 25-Oct-18 12:54:53

Doing my family tree has been like watching a film but with the reels all mixed up. That is, some family stories were sort of correct but not in the time order that was passed down. I've been amazed at how some stories don't get passed on from generation to generation. I did a Masters degree many years ago which required sitting in records offices and archives for hours and days on end, sifting through dusty documents the hard way. I was happily surprised when I started my own tree to find how much was online and how much continues to be added. Scotland's People has improved its offering a great deal in the last four years with different options for sifting. It is a money pit though. If you go off in the wrong direction it's a huge amount wasted on credits. Because of the different laws in Scotland about the information that was recorded on death certificates, when you do turn one up, it's really useful. However, they didn't start recording information as early as England did, which is frustrating. Irish records are very frustrating and sparse. With around 3m deaths and an ant heap of migration within Ireland and out of it it's impossible to look further back than the 1850's unless the family was rich and well-known. Wills have been very interesting. They tell you you are on the right track and have identified the right set of people. Some of them are (goulishly) hilarious. I laughed out loud in Lancashire Records Office office as my several times great grandad demanded in his will that someone's body be dug up as he hadn't paid back a loan of £100.

WhyDidIEatThat Thu 25-Oct-18 21:16:02

😀 must take a closer look at the wills ! In competitive ghoulishness I do love the death certificates (hypochondriac) although so many children dying of ear infections put me off after a while.

mateysmum Thu 25-Oct-18 21:25:01

I have a fabulous will from 1840 where the guy demanded his wife be chucked out of his house immediately on his death and the house secured, with his body in a lead lined coffin to be left in his bedroom. It was to be sneaked out in the night without anyone knowing and taken to Scotland for burial.
The executors managed to avoid most of the provisions of the will - including the one about the burial.
The "will" had to be recognised specially in court as it was never formally drawn up. The solicitor had refused to formalise it because the testator was behaving so badly towards his wife and family!
The wording of the "will" shows he was a pretty bitter and twisted old man who believed his wife had been unfaithful,but the children stood by their mother.

WhyDidIEatThat Thu 25-Oct-18 22:07:56

Ugh, the world is definitely a better place without him in it!

Land records are my enthusiasm of the day, lots of ancestors were given land by the government in return for military service (one only got fifty acres of swamp though). I never knew that was a thing.

SwedishEdith Sat 27-Oct-18 11:57:27

I'm in this phase now because I have no living relatives now who know very much. I get sidetracked by the Hoboken census records of 2nd cousins and then looking at the address on Google Earth.

WhyDidIEatThat Sat 27-Oct-18 17:10:56

Do they have addresses? I was looking at the first ever census of the US and it was only an index of heads of families, I found 5x gt grandfather but just his name and no info. How do you get into the actual documents?

SwedishEdith Sat 27-Oct-18 18:14:54

I'm only looking at what I find on Ancestry. Luckily, I've hit a rich seam of photos and documents from one part of my family - although not directly related ie down the cousin side. I wish someone had done all the donkeywork for me and I could find some info on my actual family.

WhyDidIEatThat Sat 27-Oct-18 21:33:37

Lots of people on ancestry volunteer their help, if you approach your dna matches or even just randoms via ‘community’ or member support or something. People generally very keen to help. Also wiki tree seems to have a ton of stuff?

I found the whole census so it’s not exactly hidden and I found my 5x gt grandpa and his 20 slaves, that’s quite high for the district, and it made me cry. Even though I know what things were like in that place at that time. Don’t know what I was hoping for? Abraham Lincoln owned slaves his whole life.

SwedishEdith Sun 28-Oct-18 15:59:19

Thanks. Not doing DNA but do find some people helpful at answering queries - usually along "I can confirm I can't help you" lines. grin

acivilcontract Sun 28-Oct-18 16:57:02

I moved to the US and started research, only to discover that in the 1840's ancestors moved to the same state from Scotland and then moved to Nebreska, founding a small town there. We have just come back from a trip to see it, it was very moving thinking about how long it took us to do the trip in a car knowing where we were going. Maybe it's a middle aged thing?

WhyDidIEatThat Sun 28-Oct-18 18:24:58

😂 wow, super helpful!

It’s extraordinary what our ancestors could be bothered to do, I try to invoke some of their enterprise and general spirit in daily life 😀 I have to think of them as a group though because the individuals don’t always seem real or relatable from my point in time and I’m not all that fair on them. Definitely definitely a middle aged (although I’m way beyond that) thing, I feel quite keen to check out some of their places.

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