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My Experience with Geneaology and Ancestry.com – part 1

It happened as I drove between Peoria Ill and Springfield Ill to visit Lincolns’ home and grave while on a business trip.

It happened a few years earlier while teaching a class for a financial firm when I parked in Jersey City at a random lot.

It happened another time when I visited Burlington, Mass to teach a class.

In all three cases, I was less than 10 miles from ancestors graves or other landmarks… and even ones I did not know existed let alone where they lived. I was seeing the same hills, rivers, some buildings and and fields that my ancestors from 100, 200 and almost 300 years ago saw and I had no idea I was that close to them. A strange but positive feeling for sure. My regret is not knowing in advance so I could explore more.

In the first case, I was travelling on business to Peoria Ill to teach a class to employees of Caterpillar,Inc, and decided to take a drive one night to see Lincolns’ home and grave.

Anyway, I left Illinois and returned home and a few months later, decided to sign up for an Ancestry.com account. Very quickly I was finding information on my family. My grandfathers’ World War I Registration card, passport photo, entries on ship logs of his travels, and other Records of my family. Surnames I never heard, nationalities I did not know I had in my background, occupations and scandals. It’s all there.

I had not really remembered where my grandfather was born, but it was close to Peoria in Bloomington, Ill.
Soon, I was seeing US Census records of my grandfather as an infant living in Mackinaw, Ill. 23 minutes away according to Google. Then came his father and mother’s names, Great uncles and aunts names and more. More research later showed that on my Lincoln quest, I drove about 10 Miles away from a family Cemetery containing HIS grandfather. Wow. My Great Great Grandfather born in 1822! In Belfast Maine BTW:

In the other two cases I had similar experiences. Once I looked up where my Grandmother lived, I found an address in Jersey City about 2 blocks from where I once parked while teaching a class to a financial firm. I was surely retracing my aunts and uncles childhood footsteps.

The Massachusetts stop was about 10 miles from Bilerica where I have generations of Ancestors buried, Some may have even been Minutemen in the US revolutionary war. Several from the 1,600’s

It’s deeply satisfying to me to span generations of lost family history, To find out things previously unknown by people in my life. To get a better sense of “from where I come”.

I’ll be talking more and sharing my tricks about the process of searching scanned and other family documentation in the series of blog posts.

Ancestry is not only about the past, you will also find current living relatives. I’ve found 3 so far, a distant cousin living in New Orleans, a Professor at Harvard Business School and my Wifes’ missing cousin.

If you are so inclined, I can highly recommend Ancestry as a great tool in your family research efforts.
You will find things in minutes unseen for decades, fascinating and soul satisfying information.

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