We often tend to remember major ‘firsts‘ in our lives: first date, first kiss, first car, first house, etc. Unfortunately, when it comes to genealogy, I don’t remember the first ancestor I researched. However, I do remember other genealogy ‘firsts‘.
My start in family history research began with a discussion in my grandmother’s living room. She made the comment that she would like to know more about her grandmother, especially where she was buried.
I don’t remember much else from that initial visit. However, my memory says that after my visit with my grandmother in Dodge City, I traveled to Phillipsburg to visit my in-laws. During this visit, my mother-in-law became my first mentor. She explained how to create a pedigree chart and how to fill out a family group sheet.
I returned home with a pile of forms and a desire to learn more. At my mother-in-law’s suggestion, I purchased my first genealogy book: The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood.
In terms of other firsts, my memory is unclear. However, I do remember my grandmother taking me to the Heritage Center in Dodge City to do research on the family. I believe that was my first exposure to newspaper microfilm.
One first I do remember is my first trip to Crandall Cemetery, where my great grandfather is buried. According to my grandmother Briles, Crandall was a town in Coffey County. She said as you crossed the railroad tracks, there was a barn and the cemetery was ‘right there’. Unfortunately, the maps of the time did not include a town named Crandall. Thus, my husband and I went to the college and asked the geology professor if he knew how we could find Crandall Cemetery. He showed us topographic maps of the area and helped us figure out where the rural cemeteries were in the county. Armed with our new map, we took off to travel from one rural cemetery to another. We finally found the cemetery — just as my grandmother described!
What are your genealogy firsts?
Do you have a first mentor?
Do you still have your first genealogy book?
Do you remember your first trip to a family cemetery?