Monday, May 21, 2018

Why I do genealogy?

I was never particularly interested in actually doing genealogy. I always liked to hear stories about my ancestors from my grandparents and parents. It was interesting to learn where my three grandparents and father were born since it wasn't here in Canada. But actually sitting down and searching records was never a strong interest of mine although I did help my husband when he was chasing his ancestors through most of our nearly 52 years of marriage. Since we were sitting in repositories particularly in New York State and the New England States it was certainly much more interesting to search for his various surnames/forenames than to sit there twiddling my thumbs! His own ancestry opened up like a book gradually as we searched and searched.

Through the years my mother had sent me letters (biweekly) since the mid 1970s when my husband and I moved away. I had a large box full of them and a couple of years ago I decided to scan them and include them in my writeups of the family stories. It was pure chance that I did that. As I scanned them I also reread them. My mother passed away in 2002 and her illness was brief. I saw her just once during this short time period of about ten days. We had a long visit as I spent the day in the hospital with her. We chatted a lot in memory and she referred to all the letters that she had written to me and wondered if I still had all of them. My mother liked you to keep what she gave to you and I had spontaneously put them into a carry bag initially as it just sat by me where I read letters and did correspondence. That filled after a dozen or more years and I transferred them to a box and continued to fill the bag. So yes I could answer that I had kept all those letters. I wondered initially what was coming next in the conversation; I can remember that clear as a bell. Then she mentioned that she had written most of what she knew about the family history into those letters. She said she had wanted to write up a family tree with stories to share with all of us (I have six siblings) but had never gotten that finished although there was also a set of pages on which she had put information (my younger sister, it turned out, had saved those sheets). After my mother passed away I did think about our conversation and also made sure that I put the letters into a safe place.

A little over a year later, my fourth cousin wrote me to say that he needed me to do the Pincombe Profile for the Westminster Township history book. George DeKay had written a book about our mutual families in 1975 to which my mother had contributed. The only item she did not contribute at that time was a picture of her paternal grandparents. This picture emerged at the time that George asked me to write the profile when I searched through the information that she had given to my husband when he wrote up a short family history for my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary. Initially I expressed my inability to George to actually write up such a history since I had never done genealogy. But he wrote that my cousin (another Pincombe relation) would do it but he thought my grandfather owned a grocery store on Wharncliffe Road. Well I did want the story to be correct for my line; just a foible of mine that! So I agreed to take on the task and to prepare for that I took courses at the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. The story was due in the summer of 2005 and by then I had completed about half of my courses (I would take 42 courses from the National Institute and graduate with Methodology, English Records and Canadian Records in 2007). The profile that I wrote was greatly enhanced by a lengthy meeting one day at the London Room in the London, Ontario Public Library with a number of my siblings and our mutual cousins.

But what inspired me to actually continue with the study of my families? Amongst other pushes, it was a trip to Europe with my oldest daughter and a short stay in London, England towards the end of our European trip. As we walked back and forth to our hotel in central London I had this awesome feeling of belonging. As it turned out once I was into researching, my 2x great grandfather had had a pork butcher shop just around the corner from our hotel. The feeling stayed with me the entire time we were in London and I must admit as my mother talked about our ancestry that day in the hospital her words fell on ears that were interested in what she was saying and perhaps that too stirred my curiosity.

But still I wondered how can you know these are your ancestors? Enter DNA. My husband and I bought kits in 2006 and tested with the National Genographic Project. The results were quite awesome and I quickly ordered more tests at FT DNA. One of those tests (mtDNA) took me on an interesting chase into Scotland as I have written before looking at my H11a2a1 haplogroup. My maternal grandmother's mother is elusive but the DNA helps to tell her story until I can sort through the matches that we have both mitochondrial and autosomal to find her.

The letters of my mothers which I scanned I read as I was doing so and I did discover all the family history that she wrote into those pages. It was a very strong interest of hers it appears as you read the letters. She would be thrilled with everything found thus far and so I continue. I have managed to publish everything for my great grandparents including all of their descendants that I have been able to locate. I continue with the trek albeit somewhat distracted by other events at the moment.

How long will I continue? Certainly I will continue working on my families through the years to come. Last night I deleted myself as administrator for several DNA projects and I am considering deleting myself from another three leaving myself with Blake, Pincombe, H11 and T_FGS (T2). I will continue with my one name studies for Blake and Pincombe for another few years (likely seven or eight more but at the moment they are suffering). I will continue with my newsletters for Blake, Pincombe and H11 as well.

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