Monday, October 21, 2013

A Post By Cousin Mary



I am not sure how long ago it was now but it has been a while since I met Cousin Mary through genealogy research on ancestry.com. She and I are 6th cousins once removed. (I love that removed stuff!) She and I share the same brick wall. "Ooo you, Jacob Raynor, you!!" Shaking my fist in the air. 

After you read her post here you should check out her blog over at http://threadingneedlesinahaystack.blogspot.com/ .

Thank you for your post, Cousin Mary! I love you!


Hi, my name is Mary, and I’m a genealogy addict.
Genealogy seems to be a hobby – alright, alright, obsession! – tailor-made just for me. Before I even knew there was such a thing as the study of family history, I was a huge history buff. If it took place in the past, it was right up my alley. I loved to write, loved to learn, loved to organize and I loved names and families. Yes, you read that right. I used to have a list of favorite names that I updated on a weekly basis, and I used to make up families – this person married that person and they had these kids. These kids grew up and moved here and there, did this for a living, married so-and-so, and had those kids. Grandma and Grandpa died, and the grandkids grew up and had their own kids…sounds insane, right? And yet, oh so familiar?

So, yes, genealogy was tailor-made just for me. Or maybe I was tailor-made for genealogy. It’s something I’m SUPPOSED to be doing. It’s not for everybody. Like any kind of vocation, to borrow a religious term from my old job as a Catholic newspaper reporter, not everybody is called to it. Sure, lots of people dabble. Lots of people are honestly interested. Lots of people THINK they’re interested, until they realize all the work that’s involved. I used to be one of those people who just wanted to get to the next generation, to see how far back I could get. When I realized that it was possible to document and prove (or disprove, as the case often was) the things I was learning – well, where others might have been deterred, I just fell in love even more. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with being a Christmas-and-Easter family historian, someone who only occasionally opens the family folders, who really is interested but just doesn’t have the time to pursue it as obsessively as we do. Because I’m sure we all know (and if you don’t yet, if you’re just starting out, you will know soon!) how time-consuming genealogy can be. Sometimes in an unbelievably frustrating way, in a I-wish-I-had-just-taken-up-gardening kind of way. But usually in an I-can’t-sleep-I’m-so-excited-I-just-found-a-long-lost-picture-of-Great Grandma Annie-through-a-third-cousin-I-never-knew-I-had-and-I-need-to-find-more-info-NOW kind of way. We NEED those occasional genealogists because, as luck usually has it, they’re the ones in possession of Great Grandma Annie’s photo. The more people who are out there doing this, even in the most casual of senses, the better it is for all of us. Collaboration is key! But if you’re one of the Chosen Ones (and there are quite a lot of us!) you know it. You eat, drink, and breathe vital records and cemeteries and newspaper archives. In college, I used to stay up all night. Partying with my friends? Quite a bit, yes. Glued to my computer screen searching online genealogy databases? Oh, most definitely. Genealogy is my drug of choice, after all.

But maybe that’s not the best metaphor. Addicts, for all intents and purposes, have the ability to stop. When you’re CALLED to something, it’s a part of who you are. I was a genealogist before I even knew there was a thing called genealogy. I just didn’t know it yet. It’s brought me closer to my grandmother, who also has The Calling, and to my father, who sits on the fence between casual-and-obsessive family history researcher. And I’ve gotten to discover and meet so, so many wonderful cousins and friends through our mutual research. And now that I have a daughter and my cousins have started to have kids, and the next generation of my family tree has begun blooming, I can’t wait to see which of them (hopefully a few!) I get to share this calling with!

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