1) Read Brenda Joyce Jerome’s post Who or What Do You Blame? on the Western Kentucky Genealogy blog. She asks these questions:
* Can you identify person or event that started you on this search for family information?
* Did you pick up researching where a relative had left off?
* Did your interest stem from your child’s school project on genealogy?
* If you have been researching many years, it may be hard to pinpoint one reason for this journey.
2) Write your responses on your own blog, in a comment to this blog post, or in a note or comment on Facebook.
When I first read this prompt, I immediately thought about my Grandpa Dugger. Visiting him in Tennessee for the first time since I was 4 had a huge impact on me. He was sick and I think he realized his time was limited. So he invited my aunt, my cousin Jen, and I to travel to Tennessee to see him (and paid for the entire trip). He lived in a very rural area of eastern Tennessee – in the area where that side of my family had been for generations. Those two weeks were filled with getting to know a whole branch of my family that I didn’t know existed, visiting old family sites like cemeteries and churches, meeting with a rather different old lady who knew my great-grandparents, going to neighborhood grocery stores, experiencing a drive in movie theater, and being handed money to spend my by Grandpa. I acted so 12 – and I didn’t even really appreciate the trip. Or at least not as much as I do now.
A few months after I left, my Grandpa Dugger passed away.
I think about the lack of questions that I asked him. I enjoyed going to all of these historical places and feeling the history of the place. There were so many generations before me who had walked on the land that I was walking on. It felt so different from Los Angeles. It was unlike I had ever experienced. But I know that I didn’t fully appreciate the experience or ask more questions.
But then again, I was only 12. Do we ever really appreciate what we should when we are 12?
There is no doubt that was the trip that started the spark.
But the spark remained lit because of my mom. She was supportive of my hobby and would bring home file folders from work so I had something to put all of the papers I would print out. She asked me questions and was always there to connect the historical context to my ancestors. As we would sit around on Saturday mornings, watching the History Channel, she would listen to me as I commented about how I had an ancestor that was involved in that event.
My spark became a fire when I was introduced to the incredibly large and diverse genealogy community. Facebook quickly introduced me to the world of genealogy. My hobby turned into an obsession and soon, genealogy was all I talked about. She encouraged me and helped me in any way that she could. Sometimes she would tease me by saying “I’m so lucky that I don’t have to worry about you like other parents have to worry about their teenagers: I know you’ll never come home with any weird piercings or tattoos or addicted to drugs. Just promise me you’ll never tattoo your family tree on your back or get addicted to caffeine as you try to do all night research”. “Mama, you’re hilarious – You know my tree would never fit on my back!” I’d reply with a smile. Then we’d laugh.
What sparked your love for genealogy?