Chapter 1 - Why Find Family?
By now, you have probably seen commercials on TV about people who have found long lost family members using a popular website, Ancestry.Com. This site has been around for a while and has helped people find grandparents and even great grandparents that they wondered about. Most of the advertisements include those who found out about their fathers or grandfathers who they never knew and may have been told misleading information concerning the person. While this is a good place to start to look for long lost relatives, it is not the only site that offers you a quick peek into records that are public information. There are others and, if you dig far enough, you can get the information for free.
Information about long lost relatives takes two forms. It can be relatives that you have not seen in a while or never knew existed, or it can be your ancestors. To find your ancestors you have to go back a few generations. Finding out that your grandfather served in WWI is not finding an ancestor that you never thought you had. You knew you had a grandfather, might not have know much about him, but he is not an ancestor - he is a antecedent. Ancestors go many generations back and are people that you could not possible know because they died before you could have been born.
There are many reasons to find family members. Most of us have a desire to find out where we spring from. We may hope that we have famous relatives on our side. When I did my searches to find relatives I never knew I had, I found that one of the original “Untouchables” who worked with Eliot Ness was my second cousin, three times removed.
But there is much more than just finding out glory relatives when you are trying to find them online. It is about finding a connection with people who had the same blood as you, from whom you descended. And without whom, you would never be.
Another reason why people may look for relatives that they never knew that they had is because they want to connect with people who are still alive but who share the same bloodlines. I have found many cousins online that I never knew existed because of the internet. We have shared pictures of family members. One of my greatest feats was finding a family picture of my great grandparents and grandfather, along with his siblings, when he was a little boy.
Living relatives may have pictures of family members that can help you or they may have stories to tell about those you never got to know. One of the best things to come along for this is the internet and the number of public records that are now accessible online. Prior to the internet, you had to write to local counties and obtain information from their sources. It could take you many years to track down records about relatives through these government sources.
You can find relatives that you never knew existed by going online or you can find long lost ancestors, depending how far back you want to search. You can usually get to the era around the Civil War as this is when most records started to be recorded. In order to go further, you will have to go off line and do some searching on your own. There are always death records, marriage records and birth records that were recorded prior to these times, although do not be disappointed if you run into dead ends or that records were destroyed.
The main reason that people search for long lost relatives online is to tell a story. When you do this, you are giving an historical account of your life. From the beginning. Of how you came to be and the many sets of gene pools that created you. It can be an interesting journey, but one that is arduous, despite the convenience of the internet and sites like Ancestry.Com that make it convenient for you.
You may end up being surprised or disappointed at what you may find. You may have been told that your family members dated back hundreds of years and then find that they came over in the early part of the last century. You may find criminals and other notorious persons in your past. Or you may find a hero or two. Chances are that you will find a mix of people in your family tree that can help you understand where you came from.
Once you understand what you can find and are prepared to go find it, the next step in searching for relatives is to get started.
Chapter 2 - Getting Started
Like everyone else, you have two sides to your family -your father’s side and your mother’s side. In my case, I knew all about my mother’s people as far back as to the point where they entered this country. I knew that my great-grandparents were fishermen in Palermo, Sicily and that they came here as adults seeking a better way of life.
My father’s side, however, was a mystery. No one knew too much about them, in particular, my father’s father. My dad’s father died young and his father had died after being shot during a hold
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