Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An Apology & Essential Genealogical Advice

I must apologize for the dearth of posts.

Only 3 days after my last post, I found out I was pregnant.

It's been a very uncomfortable first trimester - nothing like when I was pregnant with my son!  My dear Gavin was an easy baby (well, until he was born - then it was a different story; but he's come a long way from being an infant who wanted to be held all the time, which is something I obliged, and is now such an adorable, almost-10-year-old boy.  People constantly remark on his compassion, consideration and good manners.  Let's hope they say the same about #2 when he or she is that age!).

This little one has certainly challenged me.

However, my energy has returned and any discomfort has finally abated as I enter the second trimester.  I can finally concentrate once more.

So while the newest Mayflower descendant and Callahan family member progresses toward his or her first encounter with this world, I am back to work with genealogy.

During my "I'm too tired to move" days, I managed to do some research for friends.  One friend in particular has quite a mystery about his family, but I don't think it's nearly as complicated as it initially seemed.  Once I started locating vital records, I found that whatever information he was given was simply incorrect.

Unfortunately, parents or grandparents can forget things sometimes, which leaves us with more questions than answers.  I think that's why the first thing I urge people to do, when they come to me for advice about how to research their family tree, is talk to family members.

In particular, I encourage them to speak to their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles, and the cousins who fall under those particular generations.  I know my Nana's first cousins have shared some very interesting information that my Nana or others did not recall, or share with me.

These older generations are precious.  You may learn everything you need to know from one person, or you might get conflicting information from a few people that can help you narrow down some of your questions.

I'm really grateful that my great-great aunt, Espezzia, took the time to share her story.  It was 1991 and she, along with her sisters, Elsie and Lia (my great-Nana) put together a typed document of recollections about their parents and their childhood.  They were all nearly 90-years-old at the time, and the document itself is invaluable to the Galfre descendants.

Had anyone thought to ask Elsie, Lia, Espezzia, and their others sisters and brothers about their childhoods or their parents' lives in Italy?

I don't know, but I'm so glad these women took the initiative to put their thoughts on paper for future generations.

Likewise, I've "interviewed" my Nana, my grandfather, my grandmother, cousins of theirs, an aunt, and my father.  It's not just about adding names, dates and information to a family tree, but stepping back in time and putting yourself in their shoes.

Talk to the older generations in your family now - don't let the chance pass you by!

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

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