Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Family Tree - A Gift for Dad

Ever delve into your family history? I've always had a fascination for it. I guess there is usually one or two people in the clan who take it upon themselves to do the research. My Dad and I have been looking into his side for the past eight years. We've uncovered a lot of information!

This is a photo of my Great Grandfather Benjamin standing out in front of a Brooklyn, NY fire pumper. After living in NY for many years as a fireman, he decided to take his three sons and get away from the city and the gangs, etc.

Here he is again (man on the right) on the boardwalk ... I'm guessing somewhere along the coast of New Jersey. (Atlantic City?) After his wife died, he married this sweet, sweet lady who became the grandmother everyone knew and loved. I heard so much about her I named my cat, Minnie, after her! (Wonder what she would have thought of that????)

And this is a picture of my beloved Grandmother. She was only 18 years old at the time. She was born in Massachusetts and met my Grandfather (one of the three sons from Brooklyn) after her family moved south to New Jersey. Isn't it weird how it all happens? If neither family had moved south, they never would have met.

It was after my Grandmother went into a nursing home we really started researching. I had always kept lists and hand drawn family trees but this was something more. We found cemetery and funeral documents, certificates, and newspaper clippings. She had saved everthing that she could, lucky for us. Many other important family documents were supposedly lost in a fire back in Brooklyn. (Ironic since my Great Grandfather was a fireman...)

What I'm working on currently is a compilation of everything we have learned. It's my Dad's birthday in about a week and I'm hoping to surprise him with a family tree "book." Although this version is a work in progress, a rough draft of sorts, it is a start.

It takes all kinds of ways to gather information. Things like family documents that you have in your possession, interviewing relatives, writing letters to churches, and retrieving archives, just to name a few. I'm no geneologist, but I've learned a lot by trial and error.

I've had a lot of help from the new Family Tree Maker software program and I highly recommend it if you are also trying to compile your family's history. You can download census records and more from the internet through the program. And to think I used to travel to Washington, D.C and sort through microfilm to find these documents! This is much easier now.

Happy Birthday, Dad!


Sweetie said...

As someone that has researched my ancestors for many years, I really find your family information interesting. I also love the pictures.

Connie said...

The hearts of the children will be turned to their fathers........ you're doing necessary work, little sweetpea. Just keep doing it and you'll be blessed.

Pat said...

What a wonderful project! Your Dad looks like his Mom, and you look a little like your Dad.

My husand hopes to put together a whole family history book when he retires. He's been using rthe software too.

It's funny how your grandfather moved away from Brooklyn and my Das moved to Brooklyn from Pennsylvania back in the 1930's to find work and to get away from the mines -- I guess "the grass is always greener...." :-)

Hugs, Pat

Ms.Daisy said...

Wow Jillian! That is a lot of hard work - it takes a lot of patience and perseverance. Nice job!

Ms. Daisy

Liz said...

What great pictures! I got into this last year too, spent TONS of time on and filled a giant notebook with pages of family trees. I had no idea there was so much to find!

Jillian, Inc. said...

That's s neat. We have "cousin Judy" on my mom's side that has been doing this for years. She's so interesting to talk to, and honestly...she uses my mom for a souce a lot because my mom has a mind like a steel trap. She can remember people, places, dates, names better than anyone I know. You dad will be thrilled with the book. What a great gift!

Natasha said...

What a great thing to share with your dad! I recently went to a family reunion which focused on where it all began...I was blanketed with nostalgia for weeks. I just loved it! I think that is what really draws me to the things I love...aprons, gardening, canning, antiques. It makes you feel apart of something bigger then yourself and like you are truely carring on!!

Thanks for your uplifting comment about my curtains and the quote I could not bring together!!

Dana said...

What an interesting post, Jillian. Is the lady, Minnie, your biological grandmother? I ask this because, from just looking at the photos, you seem to look so much like her! I love family history, too, and only have bits and pieces of mine. Recently we had a new geneology center built just blocks away from us--I can hardly wait to check it out. What a great gift you are preparing for your dad.

Natasha Burns said...

Isn't it fascinating what you can find out? a few years ago i tried to compile a whole lot of info, and was given a lot by my cousin who lives in the US actually! I regret not asking my grandmothers more when they were alive because a lot of information has died with them. So good that you are able to put together as much as you can, your dad will love that gift!

Melissa said...

What a wonderful family history you have.

Your father will love his gift.


Joanne Kennedy said...

I've been trying to do some research on my fathers side of the family but so far have not had much luck. I beleive my dads father and mother came over here from Ireland and so it's hard finding stuff. My dads real mom died when he was only two and so he didn't know much about her. But I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep digging.

You have some fun information on your family.


Rue said...

Hi Jillian :)

I have been working on my family tree for over 10 years now. As soon as I bought a computer I bought the Family Tree software. It's been a lot of hard work, but it's been so worth it! :)