I have been absolutely amazed by the people of this community. Cousins, yes very distant but relatives just the same, seem to be coming out of the woodwork to introduce themselves to me, share information, and collaborate together on family lines. I never in my wildest dreams expected this.
When I first started researching my family, I found a cousin through Ancestry.com. Her grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers. Thanks to her, my Combs family research opened up and blossomed almost overnight. Within a few months, I had contact with several more cousins from different lines in my father’s family. It wasn’t until recently that I had made connections through my mother’s lines; several cousins have reached out through the Family Tree Firsts blog to make contact with me. Without doing this blog I would never have been able to find them.
I also have a personal blog that I started to meet fellow researchers, share information, and collaborate together. As I have made contact with these offshoot branches of the family I have invited them to read and keep up with my research through it, as well as here. Through the spirit of working together, we all can benefit from each other’s successes.
You can therefore understand my frustration and confusion with people who put their information out there but have no intention of talking, connecting, or sharing with you. Mainly, why would you create a public tree or blog if you don’t want people to contact you? Why would you put yourself out there? I looked recently and I have a good dozen unanswered messages over at Ancestry.com to people who may be related. Even worse, one of them has incorrect information published about my grandmother that I am trying to get corrected. She was my grandmother after all; I would think his person may like my insight into her life and the correct information for her birth, death, and marriage.
I sat down the other day and wrote a handwritten letter to a woman I have not seen in over a decade. She is my grandmother’s cousin and in her late 80s, which means time is of the essence. I am hopeful, as the keeper of the Sanders family history, she will be willing to share her knowledge with me and, if no one on her side is interested, pass on the family memorabilia to me one day. A consequence of becoming the family history keeper that my husband and I have discussed: how big does the next house need to be exactly?
Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.
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