Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why Bother Researching My Family Tree?

My very first BLOG POST at The Oracle of OMcHodoy addressed the question of “Why Bother Blogging?”.  The end result of that post was the following answer:

“While Internet databases provide me with the means to find information, message boards, email groups, personal web pages and blogs provide me with the means to connect with people”.

It’s now almost six years removed from that post and today I want to switch things around and answer the question, “Why Bother Researching Your Family History?”.

When I started researching names on the Internet (via Rootsweb,,, Google, etc) I was amazed at the mass of information available. As with many people, I was drawn in to, with its wealth of digital images, indices, names and dates. I started by plugging in the name “John J. Doyle” in an effort to determine the relationship of the subject of a photograph to me. Before I knew it I wandered off the name of “John J. Doyle” and found the names “Edward Hodick”, “James O’Rourke” and “Dennis McHugh”. With every find I felt a surge of excitement. But I also felt so much more.

Fast forward five years. My research in this time period waxed and waned, with periods of utter joy at finding a genealogical gold mine and periods of utter disappointment at not even having time to research. My father had moved in with me, adding the new role of “Caregiver” to my resume. I changed jobs. Later, I dealt with the death of my father, and a move that was to lead to a second move in a matter of months. And I bought my first home. It may sound strange, but it was this latter process that provided me with the answer to the question, “Why Bother Researching Your Family Tree”.

There were many obstacles in front of me when I began my home search. The branch manager at my lending company was shot down and killed. A friend using the same company went through hell trying to close on her own home because of the sluggishness of the money-handlers. I had a spreadsheet of 20 homes to wade through, worried that I’d ultimately choose the wrong one. But alas, fate intervened.

After looking at my top five choices, I told my realtor to set up a walk-through of the 18th house on my list, which had three major strikes against it: It was a little further west than I wanted to go, it was only a two-bedroom (I wanted at least a three-bedroom), and it had polybutylene pipes, which are known to burst without warning. In spite of these things, something screamed inside me to look at house number eighteen. My realtor met me there at about 6:00 one evening and unlocked the front door. I took one step inside and said ‘It’s mine”. I felt an instant connection to this house. After about 45 days of negotiating a very significant repair (the seller did re-pipe the house), I moved in.

The move-in occurred on 31 Jul 2010. To this day I have nary a doubt that I made the right choice in bumping house number eighteen up to house number six. From day one I’ve felt the presence of my parents in this home that they’ve never seen – that was built in the same year I moved to Tucson. The  spiritual connection I feel to this house is what tells me that it was truly meant to be mine.

So how does that story provide me with the answer to the question “Why Bother Researching Your Family Tree”?  Because for six years running I’ve had that same exact feeling of spiritual connection with every ancestor found.

And while I know that documented evidence is the standard in the field of genealogy, it still cannot compare to the standard of connection


Greta Koehl said...

I love and identify with this post - sometimes you just know that something is right, no matter what "logic" and "prudence" say!

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

The same thing happened to me when we found our current home. We went through a lot to get it, but I just knew we had to have it. Congratulations on your new home, Colleen!

Unknown said...

Got the chills! Loved this post!

Jim (Hidden Genealogy Nuggets Blog) said...

I just saw your post through Geneabloggers. I myself starting blogging partly in a hope of finding and luring unknown distant cousins to find and contact me.

Regards, Jim
Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

the said...

Happy Blogiversary!! I've been a member for four months now. This is a great blogging community. For Christmas I received "An Early Christmas Gift" and it was fun to share a post about it.

Regards, Grant