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!