When I was an “almost teenager”, my mom was given a genealogy chart that had, I believe, been found in her grandfather’s attic when he passed away. Nobody in our current family had even known that this chart existed. My mom decided to try to fill-in some of the “gaps” in the chart to keep my great-grandfather’s work alive. I thought that the whole thing was pretty cool, so I joined my mom in trying to track down some of the information.
This was long before the internet. Soon, we found ourselves going to libraries and trying to find old dusty books that may have a little piece of information. A birthday here, a spouse’s name. It all added up and helped us create links to even more of our ancestors.
Often it takes a stroke of luck. As it turned out, one of the ancestors already documented by my great grandfather was a woman named Frances Deighton (born in 1611 in Uley Manor, England). As we continued to look through books, we discovered that Frances Deighton was intent on proving hers was a royal bloodline. To do so, she hired researchers from a college (I don’t remember which one) to trace her lineage back to Charlemagne (King of France) and beyond. In fact, Frances Deighton had one line of her genealogy traced back to where the Bible leaves off. By back-tracking the many biblical passages that say, essentially, “this-person-begat-this-person-who-begat-this-person”, Frances Deighton had traced one line of her family back to Adam and Eve. Of course, the accuracy of the biblical account cannot be verified, but the whole thing was exciting to me.
However… although we had made a lot of progress on my mom’s part of the family tree, the same wasn’t even remotely true for my dad’s family. What we knew (and could prove through records) for my dad’s Lamaster family didn’t go very far. What we could find out only went back about 5 generations, and even that was sketchy.
Fast-forward about 40 years. Now, even without a subscription to one of the big services like Ancestry.com, you can often find records with a simple Google search. Many of those records exist in public repositories. It just takes a bit of work to tease-out what you’re looking for. Often, you may find other people who have done their own genealogy and have published complete trees that you find a common ancestor in. That’s what happened to me when I stumbled upon research from H. Edgar Hill and from http://www.lamasterfamily.org. One of our known ancestors was found among their work, so going back from that point was easy. I credit them for the progress I’ve been able to make on my Lamaster genealogy.