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Ezra, chapter 2 verses 62 & 63 in the Old Testament of the Bible reads: "...those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they,..., put from the priesthood."
Don't lose your heritage! Start now with YOURSELF! A family history doesn't need to be complicated nor does it have to go back several generations to be important. Give your full name plus any nickname you have used all your life. Where were you born? When? Who did you marry? Where? When? Their parents. Your children -- names, birthdays, their spouses. Add some items of interest to your descendants. How did you meet your spouse? Name some of your jobs. Your church, politics, hobbies, etc.
Now do the same thing with your parents and grandparents.
After you write dates check them with any legal papers or other proof you can find. Make a note of the source of your proof.
Ask those who are recent emigrants, how they came over. (My grandfather was carried piggyback down the gangplank by an older sister.) When did they come? Why? What was their first impression? Find out exactly in what town, province and country your family was located. (How I wish I had that information.) You may have to check a modern atlas for the spelling.
How about your name? Was it changed to make it easier to spell or pronounce? Very few names were carried generation after generation without some variation in the spelling. Mc's, O's, Van's, D's, de's and etc were dropped and added through the years. Phonics were used and misused.
If you have recorded everything you know and haven't caught the "genealogy bug" you can relax and know you may have helped a future genealogist in your family. If you caught the "bug" you can now settle down to serious research of your family. Good Luck!
First there is a psychological benefit. We are a nation of joiners. Why? Because we have a deep need to belong. Before rapid transportation and mobile living, families lived within commuting distance. Children were raised witl~ aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. and knew their relations. They belonged to a family. Good or bad they were still their family.
Second there is a physiological benefit. The study of genetics and its relationship to inherited diseases and the tendency to develop certain non-inherited diseases can be studied with the aid of a good medical history of a family.
The researcher also has the pleasure of gathering and compiling a family history which he can do at his leisure.
The above benefits concern the researcher or the family he is working with.
Many times bits and pieces of history are uncovered which would otherwise be completely lost, especially local history. If you find some local history at least make a note and let your local historian or historical society know about it, if you don't want to write it up yourself. Don't be afraid to "toot your ancestors horn", after all, famous people need a public relations person. How many of us could name the other man who rode with Paul Revere to warn of the British? All kind of interesting things can be discovered about our ancestors. Remember they were a brave group of people to risk change and come over here to a strange land and start their lives over.
You will find that tracing your ancestors is not a dry and complicated activity. Just dive right in and prove who you are for a start.
Begin with the oldest members of your family - those who may remember what you are looking for. They may be able to clue you in on several generations. They may know other members of your family who have already done a great deal of research on your history. Perhaps they can tell you where to find the family Bible or important legal documents. They may have in their possession letters or pictures of value to you.
You must remember that family stories and traditions are not facts. Your next task will be to find proof to substantiate the information you secure.
The Church is a likely place to find baptismal records, marriage or death certificates. Wills, probate records, deeds and land records, census data are other sources of information.
Military records may be secured from: General Services Records (NNCC), Military Archives, Washington, D.C. 20408. (You may secure forms at the Historical Research Office in the Court House).
Cemetery records are a good source of dates and family relationships.
Don't neglect the libraries. Locally we are fortunate in that we have a Center for Historical Research located in the Carnegie Library in Beaver Falls.
There are many volumes of historical information which will be helpful to the person searching for information about his family tree. The library was officially dedicated on November 10.
Happy hunting! If you need some assistance, visit the Historical Research Office in the Court House.