Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – What Started You Researching Your Family History?

We’ve arrived at yet another challenge from Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings with Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

I think I naturally had some interest in family history from when I was fairly young. There were two events that triggered the actual research bug, which came a bit later on.

When I was ten (1962), I discovered boxes of family photographs that my mother had collected over the years. They became the basis of the massive collection I have today and I am very thankful for them.

Mom had just collected them, still in those little yellow Kodak pouches that prints used to come in, but I decided they needed to be organized by year and labeled with names, places and years. My mother was perfectly happy to buy me a little scrapbook and have me do all the work of mounting the photos. For my part, I loved it and remember asking about photos of unknown people and places.

A few years later, when I was probably somewhere around 13-15, so about 1965 to 1967, I discovered that my paternal grandmother had a similar box of family photos of her side of the family.

I repeated the activity of sorting, labeling and asking questions about who the people were in the photos and mounting them into another little scrapbook.

Thankfully, the scrapbooks were the ones with the black pages and  photo corners, not those monstrosities with photos held by sticky stuff on the back with the plastic covers over them that came out a few years later.

I think those two scrap booking moments created an interest in the family history that sat in the back of my mind until 1980. Unlike many others who were motivated by Alex Haley’s Roots (I actually lived in Mexico City when that came out and didn’t see it as a first run), I wondered about the origins of my mother’s maiden name – Adams – and I was interested in membership in Daughters of the American Revolution.

My mom’s family was from New England and family lore said that while we weren’t descended directly from the Presidential Adams line, we were from that Adams line, i.e. descended from Henry Adams of Braintree, Massachusetts.

The presidential connection is what I wanted to find out about. I figured if that was true, then we likely had at least one patriot who served in the American Revolution.

I set about on my research path that has never ended. I quickly found that my grandfather’s grandparents were born in Canada – specifically New Brunswick – and from there, I just as quickly learned that they were likely descended from Loyalists, which proved to be very true.

My Adams family origin is through Edward Adams in Milford, Connecticut in 1640 and while I do have six patriots, I also have eight Loyalists so I proudly state that my ancestors stood up for their beliefs!

The last step that shot me on my way towards full out genealogical addiction was in 1985 when I discovered a second box of family photos owned by my paternal grandmother. However, I didn’t recognize any of the people in them and rightly surmised that they were of my father’s father’s family. My paternal grandfather died in 1936 so I never knew him. My grandmother wasn’t overly fond of her extended in-laws family, but she did save the old photos of them and was more than happy for me to have them.

That pushed me down the first international path (aside from English roots which had been uncovered by other researchers) to what was then Czechoslovakia.

This is the 36th year of my addiction and, in that time, I have researched many of the U.S. states, Canada, England, Slovakia and, mostly recently, ventured into Denmark and Sweden.

I have to say that without technology, I never would have gotten this far.

When will I be done? It doesn’t appear that I will ever not find this the best fun ever, so I’d say I will be done when I have become one of the ancestors of the past. 🙂



4 thoughts on “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – What Started You Researching Your Family History?”

  1. I love reading your story! In fact, I just enjoy reading stories about how people got interested in genealogy. So, are the photos still in those old scrapbooks? Or have you done something else with the photos? I’d love to see a page of the scrapbooks if you still have them. And, it is wonderful that you used the black pages with photo corners instead of those nasty albums! 🙂

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