You may remember the line from the movie Sixth Sense when an innocent young boy looks off in the distance and very seriously says “I see dead people”. It isn’t my kind of movie, so I’ve never watched it; but the commercial advertising it is etched in my mind. This post is not about the same subject as the movie, but I was reminded of that line during the last month.
My Mom drove six hours to get here and was able to stay for about a week. She brought a lot of paper with her. We spent most of each day inputting information from her papers through the keyboard and onto the computer screen.
Names. Dates. Places. They were entered onto a software program called Family Tree Maker, which is designed to work with ancestry.com. Instead of plunging into ancestry.com, I wanted to build our tree offline first before posting it. That’s not to say that editing cannot be done on ancestry.com, but that my preference was to initially work with the software. That allowed us to proof read and fix any mistakes first. Working with so many names, dates and places leads to some inevitable confusion, but adding more names as you go reveals errors and how to fix them.
We made a lot of progress, but it was time for Mom to go back home before we could finish inputting all of the information she had. She came a while later for another week when we continued the work we had begun. Our final chart boasts 889 people in over 300 families in an impressive sized tree.
Mom calculates that she’s been working on family history on and off for over 50 years. FIFTY YEARS! Starting with information given to her by a special aunt, she filled in whatever information she could through the years. She expanded her tree in depth and width. She became accustomed to saving obituaries and articles. At the peak of her interest, she was involved in genealogical groups, historical societies, and searched for information from her back yard to across the ocean. The picture here shows Mom in Wales, Great Britain where she and I saw the church where family members attended and were baptized.
Word spread that she was interested in genealogy, so many family members shared whatever they had with her so their information would be recorded. That is why she has piles upon piles of notes, newspaper clippings, binders and pictures. The rather recent existence of the internet has offered the benefit of displaying all of the facts and personal stories organized in one place. It would also allow the information to be shared with others.
Inputting the information on Family Tree Maker software was not without some frustration. I have no idea how my mother kept everything straight through the years. At 80 years old, her memory and reasoning are outstandingly sharp. There is no doubt in my mind that the many notes she made would not be able to be pieced together without her knowledge; but her charts, notes and letters somehow transformed into a sensible lineage. And oh, the interesting stories we recorded!
Click here for Part 2.