Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where To Get Started....

For as long as I can remember I've been interested in the past.  Often I think about what it would have been like to live in another place and time.  Usually that place is either St. Louis in the 1840's or Denver in the 1870's.  I love learning about the time right before and right after the Civil War out West.  If you know me, you're probably thinking, "Well, duh.  You're a history teacher."  True, I am a history teacher, but aside from the past that's dictated by the Virginia SOL's, I'm much more interested in my own past.  Maybe it's because I'm an only child, but I've always felt the need to know that people are paying attention to me....that people are proud of me, or interested in me.  I remember getting accepted into JMU in January 2004, my grandfather had just passed away in November, and I couldn't help thinking about the fact that he never knew where I was going to college.  On many occassions, and after many big events in my life, I've thought about whether my ancestors who died long ago would be proud of me, or would have liked me and wanted to spend time with me. 

About a year and a half ago I signed up for an account with to see what I could find out.  What I found out was that is addicting.  I can literally spend hours a day going through historical records of my family members, as well as connecting to the family trees of others in hopes of finding out more about my own family.  From this research I have learned so much about myself and my family.  For those of you who know me, you know that I love all things Southern and had quite the Southern accent growing up.  As much as I would love to be able to read about my ancestors who lived in the South and drank sweet tea while sitting in a swing under a big magnolia tree, I'm slowly starting to realize my ancestors from Pennsylvania and Delaware did no such thing, and as far as history shows, I'm about as Southern as my family gets.

Another piece of my history I've had to come to terms with (as many other Americans probably should) is that I'm really not as Irish as I thought I was.  I think 95% of America claims to be a little Irish, if not half.....especially on March 17th.  I'm quickly learning that Ireland has very little to do with my family, and France has touched many areas of my past.

Of course is not perfect.  The farther back I go into my family's history, the more cautious I have to be.  I also have realize that anyone can have an account to do research, and my family tree research is more than likely not going to be 100% accurate, but it's still fun to go back and try to figure things out.

So why this blog?  Well, from the title, you can see that my last name belongs to more people in America than any other last name.  Growing up with the last name Smith is pretty boring, which might be the reason I'm always interested in unusual last names.  I remember thinking, 'I can't wait to get married so I can change my last name.'  It's not that I'm not proud of my family name, it's just that it's so common, something I feel that I'm not.  I've been wanting to start a blog for a while now, but never had any real ideas in mind for what it was going to cover.  I've recently gotten back into the research and decided to use my blog as an outlet to share my family history.  I hope to document my relatives who are still living, but also those from long ago.  I've found out some pretty interesting facts, and maybe people will be interested enough to follow me on this little journey.