At one level my ancestry search began with a birth certificate and 3 marriage certificates. Not surprisingly, the realisation that I was the only one in the “family” who held the stories of the past shocked me into realising that I was “it”. If the stories from my mother in the London Blitz, my Grand father working in a steel mill and the family myth that was spoken of with a nod and a wink were to survive, I would have to speak up!
Sowing The Ancestry Seeds
There are many ways to get started on your family tree and, if you are lucky enough to come from a large family, they may have enough documents, photos and stories to get you started. In my case, I somehow ended being the lone Senior Citizen. If you have read my post about how our family arrived in New Zealand it may have seemed like one big adventure to a land of plenty. But, there were disadvantages. The most obvious one being that for a Ten Pound Pom your extended family is a nearly 12,000 miles away. Staying in touch in the 1950’s meant writing letters and waiting weeks for a reply. It’s not surprising that for many families (like mine) the physical and mental distance was too far and the common threads of family ties were broken.
To be honest my first step to growing my family tree began almost without acknowledging that this was what I was doing. It could be labeled as a “mid life crisis” as my personal life was decidedly in crisis! At the time I was working full time as a State Registered Nurse so financially I was able to afford to go “back home” The idea being to try and reconnect with the family we had left behind forty years ago. There is strength in numbers and, at the time, I needed to be strong. I stayed in the UK for six weeks and met with many cousins and took even more photographs. Sadly, there were no aunts or uncles to visit but at least some names now had faces.
Cultivating My Family Tree
The first piece of advice I can give at this stage of my ancestry search is that, from my perspective, it is overwhelming! During the last few weeks, while I have been waiting for my results to come back, I have been stalking members on Facebook (DNA help for Genealogy (UK) for advice, motivation and support. I received all three in generous amounts but I think I may have overdone my research because as the information grew so did my level of unease. Understanding certificates was one thing but this was a whole new different ball game! The terminology and basic concepts seemed to require a PhD at least.
My second piece of advice is to begin where you are not where those who have years of experience are. I began with the few certificates I had. I clicked on the Family Tree icon and added the information from the certificates. Then I added my children, my two marriages. Tomorrow I will add my sister and her children. Simple…what could go wrong?
My third and last piece of advice, based on my first day’s experience, is that if you don’t understand something leave it alone until you do!
The image above is a copy of numbers associated with a name that I have never heard of or seen in relation to either my family or my extended family. I now understand that cM’s stand for centimorgans and google tells me that it is a unit for measuring genetic linkage. The replies I received all congratulated me on having such a fantastic result so obviously I had to keep going with the search for this elusive 1st cousin. The next step, looking at the supporting evidence, threw me into a tail spin. Some names matched but had the wrong dates whilst others had the right location and wrong dates. So, here I am, taking my own advice! Watch this space!
If you would like to share your experiences please leave a comment below…we may even end up with a post of “Newbie” Hints, Tips, Do’s & Don’ts!