Climbing the family tree

My latest obsession is genealogy. It all started with the Mormons. Now there’s a sentence you don’t hear every day.

A search for “genealogy” on Google will bring you to the Church of Later Day Saints with greater reliability “polygamy.” (What’s this world coming to?) So I hung out with the Mormons for a while. I found a couple interesting snippets of info… just tantalizing enough to lead me to a “pay” site ( where you can search indexed census records going back to the birth of our nation – with links to scanned images of the actual, hand written forms used by the census workers. I shot through that site like an ADD kid on a double espresso high, hopping from one promising link to another with abandon. In forty-eight (non-weekend) hours I had gone through no fewer than four battery cycles on my PowerBook, and had hooked my wife sufficiently to upgrade to the “Deluxe International” plan at A chorus of “Beth, get it yourself” rang out through the house as Cheryl and I huddled in front of our glowing screens.

It turns out I hit the mother load, while Cheryl has barely gotten beyond her mother. One of the features on several genealogy sites is that you share your research with others. If you can match up a common ancestor with someone who’s done a lot of research you’ve got it made. Which one of us do you suppose found a few matches?

I have no idea how reliable the info is, but I’m looking forward to trying to find out. In the mean time, my new-found collection of names and dates is a tantalizing look into my past. Have you ever heard that there is power to knowing someone’s name – that in some cultures names were guarded to avoid granting others influence over themselves? Now, I think I understand.

Give the gift of words.