Curiosity Grew a Tree

Why are you researching your family tree?

I’ve been asked this question several times over the pass fifteen years. To be honest, I’m not sure of my real reason. I guess if I had to give one, it is because of my insatiable curiosity. At least this is the driving force that keeps me researching.

The other reasons for my genealogy addiction are to know who came before me and where they came from. I’m not concerned with finding royalty or famous family members. Sure, they are interesting, but whether my great great-grandmother was a queen, murderer or a mother of six children, I treat her with the same respect. Ultimately, she is part of the reason I am here.

Having a sense of where my blood line descends helps me learn a little more about myself. In a world where it is easy to get lost in the stereotypes of television, I feel a sense of unity that travels through the generations making me unique.

Given the fact that many in Atlantic Canada have a varied background, learning more about our ancestors can bring us to understand a little more about other cultures. We are not alone in this world. Our ancestor’s blood walks the Earth in many nations. My ancestors came from at least four different countries, some which fought bloody wars against each other. The history between Scotland and England is filled with violence and hatred, yet here I stand, the product of both counties.

Along with learning about ancestors comes a pride stemming from something they were part of. It doesn’t have to be something big like discovering penicillin or inventing the telephone. It is as basic as being one of the first settlers of Lunenburg or one of the builders of Fortress Louisburg.

Grandpa Jones

Maybe your grandpa was a banjo picker, too.

As we stumble along the path of discovering our ancestors, we learn about local history. Most of us didn’t like the stale history taught in school, but when we are learning about our great-grandfather who captained a schooner that brought supplies to many Newfoundland and Labrador fishing villages in the 1800’s, our interest metre shoots up.

Although we learn about history by learning more about our ancestors, it works the other way, too. For example, by learning about the local saw mill, we may discover a rich part of our own family history.

Some researchers are driven to find rare and sometimes fatal illnesses that are passed through the generations. Cancer, diabetes and heart problems are just a few that can ‘run in the family’.

With all these reasons to research your family, it’s no wonder genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies around.

4 thoughts on “Curiosity Grew a Tree

  1. I studied History at University and I think I have a better understanding of social history through my genealogical research. Why did people move? Which families were affected by the “Spanish Flu”? I watched “War Horse” this weekend, and now have a much more vivid (and horrid) picture of the conditions in which my great uncle fought and died. I remember the first time I saw the Scottish Highlands and thinking, NOW I know why they stayed in Nova Scotia! There is a blog about a study being done on why folks “do” genealogy at:

  2. Diane: I think you might find the National Geographic Genographic Project very interesting With a swab of your cheek they can determine the origin of your family from a DNA perspective. I heard the project leader interviewed on CBC Radio One today and it sounded fascinating. He said that in some cases they can put the genealogy records together with the DNA records to tell a fascinating story of earlier generations migrations.

    • Cheryl, I’ve read a bit about DNA research but haven’t yet taken the plunge. I was thinking about having my mother’s DNA tested since her relatives are more illusive than my father’s (though the McDonald family is confusing, I know they are from Scotland). She’s a Taylor and Appleby (from where, I don’t know). I’d like to trace the female side as well as the male side. It’s quite expensive and at this time, I can’t afford to do it. I’m hoping with the popularity of DNA research, the price might drop a bit.

      I’m also worried the results will be meaningless. Such as, “You’re related to the Appleby family in such-and-such a country.” and that’s it. I don’t part with my money easily, so I’d have to be darn sure I was getting something of value in return. However, I will check out the link you provided. I know technology is great when it works, and a waste of money when it doesn’t.

      Thanks for visiting and for leaving a comment.

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