Monday, May 16, 2011

Family Tree

Have you ever researched your family tree?

I've been talking about doing this for several years. In fact, when I was about 13 or 14 I corresponded with a gentleman in England (through my Grandmother, this isn't actually as creepy as it sounds) who was researching my Dad's branch of the family tree.

But in the last several year I've definitely been wondering more about my Mom's side of the family tree. My maternal grandparents' families came from Norway and Sweden, and I had the opportunity to travel to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland a few years ago. It was an amazing trip, and even though I did not look up my family there, or visit the places that they lived, I felt more connected just visiting the countries, and thinking about my ancestors fishing the fjords of Norway... In the last year I've been trying to scrounge some information from my Mom, but she couldn't remember much. When I asked my Grandmother, she'd quickly get confused and then say she has a book about her family's history in Wadena, Saskatchewan, somewhere and she'll find it for me. Of course that hasn't happened...

During my Mom's recent visit, we bit the bullet and paid to upgrade my free membership to the world membership. We had a bit more information, and we called my Grandmother a few times with specific questions. Then my aunts and uncles got involved and they started sending us messages with a bit more information. And then we started getting hints! You know, those little leaves that pop up and suddenly your whole family's history is right there at your fingertips? Not quite, but every little bit helps. And when my Mom returned home, she photocopied some documents my aunt had, some of them documents from her aunts, with memories of their parents and grandparents.

Anyways, the more I find, the harder it is to walk away from it! I am so thoroughly confused half the time, I think I have spent hours just trying to review what I "know for sure!" I've contacted two distant relatives living in the U.S., and found one of them traces one part of our family tree back 10 generations, if I include myself!

I've found census records in Norway that include my ancestors. I've found Church records in Sweden listing the births of ancestors (including my Great Grandfather!) I've seen my ancestors names on ship manifests, including my Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother's names on a ship that landed in New York - now I've signed up to as a "friend of Ellis Island" and can order a commemorative certificate with their names, or the ship manifest for the ship they were on - the SS Kristianiafjord which sunk less than a year later!) I've found Census records from the US and Canada listing my ancestors. I found the US Draft Registration records for both my Great Grandfather, and his brother. I've found the death record for my Great Grandfather. And I'm trying.. trying... trrryyyyiiing to trace it back a little further. But the records are a bit less detailed, and also in Norwegian and Swedish, so it's a bit tougher going. But still soooo addicting none-the-less!

It's not just a matter of plugging in names and finding leaves (although you may think that from the commercials!) In fact, I'm finding information on a number of different websites, and is really only one of them. I'm also using (which is GREAT) and the Norwegian Historical Data Center website (where I've found Norwegian census info.), through the University of Tromso in Norway.

I couldn't sleep last night from the excitement of finding my grandfather's mother in the Norwegian Census records! And this morning when I got up I went right back to my family tree. I haven't even LOOKED at my regular blogs yet today. This family tree stuff is all I can think of!

Have you done this?? Should I get some help?? Do they have "Ancestry Anonymous" support groups do you think??

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