Going down the rabbit hole!

Note: I could not find a source for this clipart.

When I get excited about something, it takes over my life. I’m not interesting in eating or sleeping. Just want to focus. Jump in with both feet! Full steam ahead! (And for heaven’s sake don’t bother me!)

I took my DNA test around the holidays and the results came back. There were some surprises and some as expected. My four grandparents emigrated from Austria so it wasn’t a surprise to see that but it was only 49% of my DNA. I had 30% from Great Britain which I attribute to those marauding crusaders who went through the fields pillaging and poking.

There was some Italy and Greece and a dribble of this and that. Neanderthal didn’t show up in any measurable amount.

It was exciting and I wanted to see how far back I could track my heritage. We have no old pictures. No American Gothic portraits. There is no family bible (that I’m aware of) or letters or anything else. I was not discouraged.

With a stash of chocolate I started and was startled to trace 3 sets of great-grandparents. This was in the 1800s so it was pretty exciting. They all lived and died in rural Austria so no local records to help.

This research was frustrating or hilarious depending on whether I was using chocolate or margaritas for fuel.

I always lost track of time. Maybe there will be a new clue. I better check. (Is this how cell phone people get hooked?)

Some things made it difficult.

Everyone had the same names. Every generation had multiple people named Anna, Mary and Theresa. Multiple. With the same last name! I had to use birth years to keep them straight! Men were John, Joseph, Stephen and a few Edwards.

Not only were the names in a family the same but they married people with the same names. My mother had the same name as her mother-in-law and her sister’s child and grandchild. Her nephew married a woman with the same name and they named their child that. Get the picture?

The last name was spelled multiple ways. My paternal grandfather spelled his name three different ways. Again I used birth dates to track.

Some people had a nickname. I had an older cousin we called Tootsie. I was sure her given name was Antoinette (in a family of Anna’s, Theresa’s and Mary’s, it stuck out!) but I couldn’t find anything on Antoinette. Or Annette. Or any “A” name. I found her yearbook on-line with a picture. Yep it was her. Under her picture was her last name with an “A” in front of it! *bangs head on table* No data on her. Hope she’s alive. (Note to self: Check to see if my high school picture is on-line! Figure out how to hack in an Photoshop it.)

Through census records I found that my grandmother lost three children. Never knew that although you can’t trust all those old handwritten documents with names crossed out or written over.

There are some DNA matches for me. Two are cousins I know. A few I don’t recognize. They may be married children of cousins. Then there are those “private” people who don’t use their name. What’s the point if you’re not going to use your name? Yes, I mean you sunshine!

I found that it is easier to get data on dead people. I’ve been able to track my cousins (most are gone) but have had difficulty remembering or locating their children. (No it wasn’t the margaritas!) Privacy issues?

Some old marriage licenses are on-line but newer ones are not. The same is true of census records.

I found myself stalking people on Facebook. I was astounded at their political views (seriously!) but the pictures, although much older, were close enough to recognize.

I’m terrified to go on the computer. Even checking email isn’t safe. Just a little peek to see if there is anything new. Another angle to stalk. I don’t return to normal life for hours.

My butt is sore and my eyes are fried. The cats are starving (although this is not new after all they are cats)!

By this end of this odyssey I expect to qualify for a Private Investigator license. No one is safe! I will find you!

 

87 thoughts on “Going down the rabbit hole!

    • Burgenland. My mother’s side came from Inzenhof and my father’s from Krobotek. They emigrated in 1896 and 1897 from what was then the Austrian Hungarian empire. Most of the records are in Hungarian. All towns had two names. Records are sparse. It’s been a trip. Yes I remembered where you are. I don’t know exactly but I remember you talked about going to Graz. I looked that up! I have maps of the area in both languages and cheat sheets in German, Hungarian and Latin. Oh yes, some records are in Latin too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unbelievable how small the world is! I live about 10 minutes away from Krobotek. We are not in Burgenland, but RIGHT on the border to it – I’m talking a short walk away. My husband’s school and the one I work in are both in Burgenland too.
        I do remember learning that Burgenland was actually part of Hungary and then sort of “given” to Austria for some reason. I also heard that many of the people who emigrated from here ended up in Chicago. You are in Ohio, right?

        Liked by 1 person

        • No, I’m in Pennsylvania. A lot of people immigrated here from those areas. As I’ve been doing the research the names are very familiar. I remember them from classmates. I’m surprised at how rural it still is.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah this area is nothing if not rural. For decades, every other (farm-)house stood empty and decaying, but about twenty years ago, a minor renaissance began. People from all over started snatching up these old bargain houses and properties . . .
            If you have an address, I would be happy to go take some pictures in Krobotek for you. Just let me know.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Technically speaking they came from Kleinmurbisch (grandmother) and Grossmurbish (grandfather) and the other side came from Inzenhof. All I have are house numbers, like #9. My grandmother worked at #26. I don’t know if they are farms or maybe vineyards. There were a lot of grape vines back then.

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  1. My brother has gone through the ancestry thing and it’s pretty interesting but can be all absorbing and addictive at times. Still, the information is sometimes fascinating. Good luck on your continued search….just remember to feed the cats..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just received my results on Monday!! I was very surprised to find out that my father, who claimed he was German, was NOT AT ALL. Not even a speck! I am 40% southern European, which is correct since my mother’s parents immigrated from Italy and 38% from Great Britain. So it’s a spot of tea with a cannoli on the side for me. The search is addicting!!!

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  3. My immediate family and I have done our DNA also – so interesting! We did 23 and me a few years ago, and then did Ancestry just recently. It does get really addicting! But fortunately for me, my sister-in-law and my Mom and pretty into it, so they are really handling it and letting me know what they find out 🙂

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  4. Years ago I was interested in my ancestry, but never went so far as to do the DNA test. I came to the end of the road with what I could find out online and with family documents, then gave up. I’ve tried to convince myself that I care about knowing more, but like you mention when you actually start looking people are hidden behind walls of their own making. I’m glad that found out as much as you did. Of course, the question now is: what next?

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  5. I sent in my DNA two weeks ago. My sister gave me the kit. She’s already sent hers in and received the results. We’re mostly British Isles–England, Scotland, and Ireland. Some Iberian Peninsula. My nephew is worried about our would-be dictator and wants the option of moving to Canada. Since his grandpa (my dad) was born in Vancouver, BC, my sister is looking into it. Funny thing: My dad always said he was born on Dec. 12. He told the army and everyone else that was his birthday. But Canada says the source document says he was born on Dec. 11. Hmm. We have to get this straightened out.

    With just a cursory glance, I see that our relatives are pretty open with their info. And we have tons of 2nd and 3rd and 4th cousins. My sister is the big genealogy nut. So she’ll probably jump down the rabbit hole more than I will.

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    • I have 3rd and 4th cousins whose names I don’t recognize. Even when I click on the few that have public family trees, I can’t find the connection but I’m new to this. I learn new things every day. Wish I had an eager sibling willing to do the work but I’m the one in my family. It is indeed a rabbit hole. Last night I found out why I couldn’t find one of my uncles. He spelled his name a totally different way from the rest of the family. It was an accident that I found him. I was jubilant! No one would understand except another bunny in the rabbit hole!

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  6. It is definitely addicting, but fun, I agree. I’ve wondered what it is that keeps us trying to go back further and further into our family history. Is it more than just curiosity? The mild frustration I have is when I find our family information on some distant relatives “tree” and the details are incorrect. Either a spelling or even a birth date slightly off. I don’t want to go around correcting other people’s efforts, but it’s a little weird. On the other hand, we’ve found a few distant relatives and they’ve been helpful. Happy searching, Kate. I think it’s a fun way to “travel.” Chocolate? No extra trips to Starbucks?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been doing this for a week and so far there were 3 extra trips to Starbucks. (They are the ones that will make out with this!) I haven’t figured how to go back farther than the great-grands because they spent their entire life in a rural area of Austria. I don’t have access to those records and if I did I couldn’t read them. My brother is bi-lingual so perhaps he could.

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  7. I haven’t been tempted to get my DNA info (yet, anyway… as more and more people do it I’m slowly changing my mind). I have thought about delving into Ancestry.com, but I’m not convinced it’s a good thing (especially since we don’t have kids). My issue is that I’m not sure I want to invite any “strangers” into my life (even though we may be related).

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  8. So this is what I have to look forward to? – hours down the rabbit hole 😉

    We were given DNA kits for Christmas and are still waiting for results. I have a theory about what I’ll learn, so I’m waiting with some impatience 🙂

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  9. Oh boy, my husband is the same way. He got on ancestry.com and disappeared for hours on end. He claims he traced his mom’s side of the family back to the 12th century. I don’t know if he did it right. His family has been here for generations and knew nothing about their ancestry whatsoever.

    All I know about my side is that my great-grandparents all came over from Italy around the turn of the 20th century. I would love to know if any ancestors migrated from somewhere else to Italy. Tried searching with my husband, who claimed to be an expert now, and we couldn’t find anything other than the towns where my great-grandparents lived in Italy. I may need to hire you. 😉

    Sounds like you’re enjoying it though. Which is what matters.

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  10. My Aunt has spent years of her life and thousands of dollars digging up our family tree, and I’d must confess there are a few ancestors who’s memories I prefer she had left in their graves. Part of the family owned an island off the coast of Africa and used it as a hub for the slave trade.. Luckily our family reputation was redeemed when out of conscience the heir walked away from the family fortune to eek out a living making tortoise shell combs for women’s hair. But the family couldn’t behave themselves for long. One of my great-grandfathers murdered my great-grandmother and the other one was a cattle rustler and preacher. (I wasn’t aware that you could be both, but apparently you can.) It appears my family’s past was filled with murder, adultery, and scandal… hhmmm… Perhaps I can regain the family fortune by producing a mini-series…

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  11. My husband’s side of the family includes the most common and second most common last names in the U.S. On my side, many generations ago, was a man that must have been revered by all. Every generation after that had at least two men with that same name. I feel your pain.

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    • We had a few unusual names but not many. I had no idea how much repetition there was until I started this. One of the Theresa’s we called Grace. It wasn’t her middle name. I have no idea why they called her Grace.

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  12. When my sister retired she researched our family history. We had some prior knowledge from our parents and other family members. It is absolutely fascinating what she has discovered and how well it matches up to what we already knew as well as things we did not know. It is great fun reading and talking about all she has found. Have fun in your search!

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  13. I have an uncle that has spent years working on our lineage. Information, photos, even some belongings. It’s fascinating to see what new things he has discovered whenever I get to visit.

    I’ve enjoyed your writing! Your humor is delightful and the content is compelling.

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    • Thanks for your kind words. I wish I had stuff. There were portraits of my paternal grandparents but they are long gone. My aunt had them. She developed dementia. I asked to buy them from her caretakers but they said they were long gone. Probably sold for the antique frames which were original with curved glass. So sad. No other photos of that grandmother.

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  14. It sounds fun for you. I’m old enougt that I will never allow dna testing or other intrusive testing, although in the US chances are excellent that even having basic blood tests allows way too much info to get into the hands of insurance companies and anyone who wants it.

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      • I actually got my identity stolen a year or two back, even though I have the most distinctively-individual name on earth–the first name ‘Donnalee’ starts it off, and the last is hyphenated. Someone used my debit card info to buy buckets of things at a place in Pakistan called ‘cheezmall’ and elsewhere, incluidng European porn. It was bad, and they even tried to open a payapla account with teh card info, even though that card was lready linked to my own longtime paypalk account. Fortunately most of the companies were helpful when I called them, even the porn merchant, and the bank cancelled the card and reimbursed me the approximately US $500.00.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow! That is what I live in fear of. My credit card company has replaced my card twice because they caught something on the first attempt. I don’t even know how to avoid it. I don’t buy from unknown sites and I’m very careful.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I was too. *shrug* Maybe websites like banks etc. get compromised, as we’ve read so many times, and they get it there. It happens to some, and not to all. Don’t fret! Just use common sense, is my advice.

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  15. HA! Glad you’re having some fun – history of people is fascinating and the research can be a lot of fun. The duplication of first names and the creative spelling variations (as many couldn’t write and those recording took liberties) make it even harder.
    As you’ve discovered, there’s a good deal of incorrect ancestor charts/books out there from authors who made assumptions/ were in a hurry. But wander around and you may stumble across a firm trail to waaay back. It’s a game…but have plenty of chocolate and margaritas – hire the cats a nanny to come in?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have some good ideas there…I’ve just about been chocolated out. I’ll stock up on margaritas and get a nanny. I’ve been trying to engage my brothers who are almost 20 years older than me and should remember stuff. They knew my grandparents but I didn’t. Hard to get their memories going.

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      • It’s a game of sleuth. My mom and dad traveled all sorts of places seeking out gravestones and old courthouse records that are not digitalized. You may find land deeds, wills registered in counties/parishes with all sorts of info on them. Some old churches have lists of members and their families.
        Do you know the point of entry to the US? Sometimes those sites have additional records (Galveston’s are online now I think) My grandmother located one list of passengers’/gov. officials/crew/priests/mercenary soldiers on a Spanish explorer’s ship headed to Spanish Mexico/Texas – and there was one ancestor (who jumped ship and stayed in the wilderness. He ended up as a fur trader/owning a trading post near Canada. But she got his hometown from the ship’s lists…that she sent me to translate when I was in high school)
        Info is found in the oddest places. Oddly cousins and brother seems to be interested in what is already down – and not sharing the little stories they heard as kids (they are much older than I)

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  16. I get sucked down the rabbit hole of social media and articles all the time. Especially when I first stared blogging. One blog led me to another. One funny Twitter comment led me to another.

    But my lineage? Not so much. Maybe because it’s all documented and my maternal slave-owning side is ugly. The funny stories about shooting the heads of water moccasins or learning to swim in the flooded front parlor don’t really make up for, “And this pearl was brought up from the river by slaves.”

    If I were rich, I’d want to go on one of the shows were you trace your roots. I’d try to find out what happened to the ancestors of those slaves. And then I’d find them and give them back the pearls (well, ask my sister to give back the pearls), plus back wages and interest.

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    • My ancestors were farmers, living very rural hard lives. I doubt I’d be able to go farther back than my great-grandparents and it’s not that important. I find I’m more interested in finding out what happened with all my cousins and their families. I’m also intrigued by the name game. Many of the maiden names are familiar names of people in the area I was raised.

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  17. Wow. You’ve been busy.
    A cousin, three, four or maybe five time removed traced our family tree back to William the Conquerer. Apparently there’s a castle of the family name, but I doubt if I could lay claim to it, even on production of my birth certificate. My sister has the Family Bible, something I’m not allowed to even look at, so I’m not sure if it’s of the religious type or a family diary of secrets. Having no kids, my branches stop, but we still have five living generations even with Mum gone, though it’s sideways now rather than linear.

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  18. I wish I had your tenacity! I did the DNA test…allowed my email to be seen by others sharing this DNA and got a letter from a (never before known to me) cousin in Australia! However, as much as I want to dig and find out more and more, I just have not. It doesn’t seem to make it to the top of the to do list. I want to employ those folks you see on TV doing all that research and sending you to…oh I don’t know, some cave in France to find the hearts of all the past Kings of France. And that you are a 15x great great granddaughter of one. (That was the Brook Shields episode….she is a real princess!) Now I am sure I am a Princess, but I just can’t relate it to any monarchy!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am sure you are a princess too. We have some “stories” in the family of illicit births and beer barons, none of which can be substantiated. I’m enjoying it though. I know (or knew) the people I am researching now. Somehow makes it more real.

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  19. I have dabbled in my history, but it got really arduous because, while the UK has census documents going way ………………….. way ………………….. back, people did not always tell the truth apparently. For reasons only known to them, they would not necessarily use their correct names, and they would not always declare the “lodger upstairs”. One of my distant relatives was a “domestic” and obviously lived where she was employed. She does not seem to exist based on census forms! I need more scotch alongside me when I next attempt it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Being the baby in the family and from parents who were much younger than their siblings, I had plenty of relatives who already navigated the confusing geneology waters. I found out I was related to both wonderful people and some scary people. Interesting stuff! Good luck in your continued pursuit.

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    • I’m enjoying the journey. So far I haven’t found anything too scary. There are a few other charts out there on my family. One has a lot of errors that I can spot. Right now I’m working on cousins. Given up going back any farther.

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