04 February 2012

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 5: Life Experiences

Sometimes the challenges in life provide the best learning experiences. Can you find an example of this in your own family tree? Which brick wall ancestor are you most thankful for, and how did that person shape your family history experience?

I learned a lot early in my dabbles in genealogy from my great-great-grandfather John Kennedy. First I learned all about name variations while trying to track him down in the US Census records, (John Canada? Really, Mr. Census Taker?) 

After having tracked him down in the census, I discovered an online biography from an 1879 county history for Clinton Co., IA. The children listed in that biography left out two who were listed in the census records, Ellen and Hanora. This was puzzling and I love puzzles. I eventually concluded that they might have been his wife's children from a previous marriage. It turned out that my mother had a couple of pages of hand-written notes from my grandmother's cousin that answered the question about their aunts and their grandfather.

This confirmed my hypothesis--Hanora Collins had been previously married a man with the surname of Wallace. 

This is what hooked me on genealogy. I love the research, the detective work, the puzzling over facts and hypotheses, developing theories and testing them out. I also love collecting, not just ancestors and relatives, but documents, sources, photos. It's the perfect hobby for my temperament and I'm grateful to have found it  and grateful to my great-great-grandfather for being so difficult.

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