Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why I'm Researching my Family Origins

credit below
The word "dysfunctional" has become so overused these days that it ceases to carry the impact it was originally intended to convey.  I was raised in one of those dysfunctional households; one that was so turbulent that even now, in my mid-50's, I cannot tolerate watching people in conflict on TV, because it triggers memories of the volatile atmosphere of my childhood.  Unfortunately, even in adulthood, the overall health of the family relationships did not improve, but what I got out of it was that I knew I didn't want to be like them, and I think I succeeded in that desire.

I started on a genealogy project for the daughter of a dear friend as a wedding present, and found myself fascinated not only by the work itself, but also the stories of the people--how they met their spouses, what motivated them to immigrate to the United States, the roles they might have played in their communities, and the tragedies they endured in trying to build their own version of the American dream.  In spite of the fact that my parents weren't Ozzie and Harriet (i.e. "ideal" for you younger readers), I wanted to know more about my family's origins.  Perhaps my research might lead me to a better understanding of how they became the people they were, how they were influenced by their own parents and life events.  I've always loved history, and having the ability to discover even a little bit about my ancestry is very compelling to me.  Perhaps I can gain some insight as to why my family was, shall we say, not like the Brady Bunch.

Many researchers are fortunate enough to have a lot of information available to them before they even start on their family trees.  Not me.  Here's what I knew when I started:

  • Dad's birth date and location
  • Moms' birth date and location
  • Their marriage date and location
  • Maternal grandparents' birth dates, one location
  • Paternal grandparents' names and general date of death

I also knew my dad had a sister, my aunt.  They had a disagreement when I was ten or eleven, and due to my father, I didn't see her, my uncle, or my six cousins until this summer, 45 years later.  (More on that later.)  That's all I knew.  It's not much.  I also knew that my maternal grandfather's parents came from Sweden.   My maternal grandmother was born in Denmark and came over at age two.  But the bad part on both of them was their surnames--Johnson and Jensen.  These are so ridiculously common that it has made my research very difficult.  But, I never back away from a challenge, so I will press onward.  I know the journey itself is going to be as rewarding as reaching the final destination!

(Picture courtesy of;  David Castillo Dominici, published on 08 October 2012
Stock Photo - image ID: 100105897

No comments:

Post a Comment