Magnificent Obsession

MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION

I have been searching for my ancestors for almost 20 years. I wish I had started before then. People who do not seek their heritage wonder why those who do are so intent on their search. I never wonder why I do it. The search is compelling. Why did my ancestors live where they lived? What happened to them? Were they famous? Am I related to Royalty? In my case, no. At least I haven’t found any Royalty in my family. But I did find a multitude of Royals in my granddaughter-in-law’s ancestors when I did her family tree. She has a rich heritage to pass on to her son as he grows.

But what is it that lures us into the past, years beyond years, wishing we could be there, wishing we could talk to them, wishing we could ask questions? We are haunted by our ancestors. They are in our souls. We want to know more, plain and simple.

I just recently discovered why my late husband’s middle name was Freeman. His father did not have that name, but his grandfather did. It turns out that his great-great grandmother’s name was Mary Anne Freeman. She lived in Deptford, England and her father was James Freeman, the same as my husband’s first and middle names. Now I wish that I had learned this many years ago when I visited England. I was within driving distance to Deptford and could have seen their homeland.

The question is what will happen to my research when I die. Who will continue the search and record all the links? Will anyone else in the family care as much as I do? Probably not.

However, if they pursue it or not, I have benefited from and enjoyed the search and the discoveries I have made. I have connected with my ancestors and felt their joys and sorrows. I just wish I had the time, money and energy to continue the travel to other places and possibly find more of them.

Denyer Family in England

I just found some of my late husband’s ancestors in England. I have not been doing much genealogy lately, but I keep a toe in the water so that if something turns up I can add it to my family’s history.
These ancestors, the Endicotts, were found in the 1841 census of a town in a part of London on the Thames. The town is Deptford and has a tumultuous history.
Deptford is a district of south east London, England, on the south bank of the River Thames. It is named after a ford of the River Ravensbourne, and from the mid 16th to the late 19th century was home to Deptford Dockyard, the first of the Royal Navy Dockyards.
Deptford and the docks are associated with the knighting of Sir Francis Drake by Queen Elizabeth I aboard the Cook’s third voyage Golden Hind, the legend of Sir Walter Raleigh laying down his cape for Elizabeth, Captain James aboard Resolution, and the mysterious murder of Christopher Marlowe in a house along Deptford Strand.
My husband’s ancestors were not famous, but to me they are a part of my children’s lives, so it’s important to know them. The genes of the elders were passed on to their descendents. The men were sawyers, which meant they sawed the wood for carpenters. None of my children are carpenters, none work with wood, but all three are creative.
Many years ago my daughter and I spent 2 months on a trip to Europe. We were in London for about a week. However I was not doing much family history at the time and had no knowledge of the Deptford connection. I did know that my husband’s grandfather was born in London and we visited the house where he lived as a teenager. I had written in advance to the people who currently lived there to ask for permission to see the house. They were very hospitable and we were treated to a tour of the 2 story home. We even discovered a street named “Denyer” and tried to find other Denyers, but the telephone listing was so many pages long it would have been impossible to pin down any relatives.

Now I wish I could go back and visit Deptford. I have much more information than I had in 1973 and perhaps could find connections to our family. But my age makes that journey impossible. My daughter who accompanied me on the trip to Europe would like to make the same trip with her daughter at some point in the future. I hope that she will be able to do it.

Genealogists: Mark your calendar

April 2, 2012 the 1940 census will be released!  We’ve been waiting 10 years for this one.  You will be on it if you were born before 1940.  I was.   I am sure  it will be available on familysearch.org at no charge  and on Ancestry.com for those who have a paid membership.  There is a good chance that it will be free on other sites as well, but I don’t have that information yet.  When I find out I will post it here.  I hope it will help all of you who are researching your family history.

Important Genealogy tip

Today’s message is for those of you who are beginning the search for your ancestors.

 

One important thing you must not forget to do.  When you find information or are listing what you know, make a note of where it came from.  If it’s from a book copy the title page, from a film enter the film #, from a relative, make note of the name, from an online reference, note the source.  And include the date that you got the info.  I didn’t do this when I started and later on had to try to find the source, and sometimes couldn’t.   Trust me, sometime down the road you will have to prove your information, so the source becomes important.  It only takes a second or two and you will be glad you did it.

 

I want everyone to enjoy the satisfaction, wonder, delight, frustration and addiction that I have.  So get started and join the addicts.

 

Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions.  If I don’t know the answer, I will do my best to find it for you.  Everyone helps everyone else.  So, don’t be shy.  And check out my CD for beginning genealogists.  It has valuable information you won’t find elsewhere.

Happy hunting.