The extended family
As I wrote a few weeks ago, I've become engrossed in family tree research since I joined Ancestry.com, and I've learned more about my family tree than I would have ever imagined possible.
Some of the family lines that I expected to trace back through many generations are surprisingly barren in information. And some family lines that I expected to be short and dull have turned out to be the longest and most interesting branches of all.
When you research a family tree, there is no limit to the branches you can add to it. For example, you may intend to find out who your great-grandparents' mother and father were. But soon, you find yourself researching their brothers and sisters (your great-aunts and great-uncles), whom they married, and where they ended up -- and on and on it goes.
When you search for your aunts and uncles and cousins on Ancestry.com, related family trees are suggested. That has led to some interesting contacts with various cousins.
Eaton and Hart Cousins
My great-aunt Almira's son Don is one of the various cousins with whom I've been e-mailing, recently. I remember Don from my childhood. My mother liked to visit Aunt Almira, and sometimes she brought my sister and me with her. Don was a teenager at that time, and I didn't talk to him much because I was shy, and he was scary!
A decade later, my entire immediate family moved from Nebraska to Missouri, and a few years after that, Aunt Almira passed away. I didn't have any idea what had happened to Don, but when I happened to see his family tree on Ancestry.com, I knew it had to be him. I sent him a note, and he replied in a friendly way, and I have enjoyed renewing contact with him. He's living in Juneau, Alaska.
I've also contacted a Hart cousin who lives in Arlington, Texas, through Ancestry.com. If I have it straight, Bob's grandmother Lutie and my great-grandmother Emma were sisters.
Bob has a lot of Hart family information, and he is generous about sharing. He sent me a wonderful photo (above) of the entire Marcus Eaton family in about 1924. My mother is the baby in her mother's arms, and my grandfather is the man at far left. Great-grandfather Marcus Eaton is second from left in the back row, and Great-grandmother Emma Hart is second from right in the front row. The rest of the people are my great-aunts and great-uncles.
A cousin from the Hill and Mapes lines
Linda, a cousin who grew up on the West Coast, e-mailed me when she saw on Ancestry.com that I'd been researching some of our shared ancestors. She has lived in Argentina for the last ten years, due to her husband's employment.
The family relationship between Linda and me is interesting. We share Charles Lesley Hill as a great-grandfather. Our great-grandmothers were sisters. In the late 1800s, Charlie Hill married Lillie Mapes. Twin daughters were born. Then Lillie died, following the birth of a third child. Charlie then married Lillie's younger sister, Lana Mapes.
Linda, the cousin who contacted me, is descended from one of the twin daughters of Charlie and Lillie, and I am descended from a son of Charlie and Lana. Linda said she has been researching her family history for 30 years. She wondered if I know where Almus Hill, our mutual 2x great-grandfather is buried. Regrettably, I do not have that information.
Fishers and Clarks
I've also emailed with a Fisher cousin who has an extensive family tree website with my Fishers in part of it, and with a Clark cousin who has a lot of family photographs of my great-grandfather Clark's brothers and sisters on his website.
While Ancestry.com is certainly a wonderful place to research family history, there's a lot of genealogy in other places that you don't have to pay to find. I found these Fisher and Clark websites just by running the names and dates for some of my ancestors through a Google search.
All this family history has been sitting around for who-knows-how-many years, waiting for me to get interested in it. I'm glad that time of my life has finally come. And I'm glad that the internet makes family tree research so much easier than it used to be.
I can't write about my cousins and the family tree without mentioning my cousin Alta on the Sees side of the family. She doesn't fit into the "lost and found" category, but she has given me some nice photos of the George Sees family, including one I wrote about a while back.