Hello Family Tree Magazine readers! My name is Brian Parotto, and I am very excited (and admittedly a bit nervous) to be the latest Family Tree Firsts blogger. I’m thirty years old, and live about 30 miles northwest of Chicago with my beautiful wife, Katie, and 4-month-old son, Garrett. I work full time for an insurance company, and am an avid runner with plans to participate in my first marathon next October.
I first became interested in genealogy after my grandfather passed away and my aunt showed us a family tree for his line, put together by a cousin. It showed my surname traced back four generations to Italy. I had to find out more—what were my ancestors like? Where were they from? What did they do for a living? What about my other lines?
My mother’s birthday was coming up, so I thought it could be the perfect gift to put together her family trees. I had three or four months, which would be plenty of time, right?
Like the rookie genealogist I was (am), I signed up for the first few websites I found and started linking my tree with facts from different sources and user trees without validating that my findings were accurate. Needless to say, I had to go back and remove some things. But I got two “work-in-progress” trees done for my mom’s paternal (Blake) and maternal (Lindsay) lines. She was very surprised and excited by the gift.
So in my first four months, I was able to add many branches to my father’s and mother’s family trees, and found that most of my lines come from somewhere in Ireland, with a few tracing back to Italy and Germany. I learned I need to cite the sources for all of the facts I find, I need to validate that the information I find is accurate, and as great as Ancestry.com is, I need to learn to use other sources.
In the next 6 months, I hope to become more organized, learn what sources are available, find what ancestral towns or villages my ancestors lived in before coming to America and try to move beyond the vital stats to build stories of my ancestors. Most importantly, I want to solve some of my family mysteries—where in Italy does the Parotto family come from, and what was my second Great- grandfather Rocco like? Did he really marry my second great-grandmother when she was 14? What was her real maiden name, because last I checked, she has more than five of them. What happened to my second great-grandfather on my mom’s paternal side between when my relatives think he died (1925), and when death indexes show him dying in 1940? And many others.
But perhaps the biggest mystery of all: How will my wife put up with me spending more time on genealogy, running 5-6 days per week, and still finding quality time to spend with her and with our son? Something tells me I may be buying a lot of flowers and coffee over the next six months…
I look forward to sharing my experiences with all of you. Until next week!
Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Brian Parotto of Hampshire, Ill.
Here are some of the tools Brian is using to launch his genealogy education. Check them out!