Is your family tree more like a jungle gym?

That takes on real meaning if you have researched in Kentucky and Arkansas. There, the local joke is, “If I divorce my wife, is she still my cousin?” One of my Clinkenbeard branches had two sisters who married two brothers of a neighboring family. I have observed in my 30 years of doing amateur genealogy that no one really cares where their family came from until they hit 40 years old. Sort of a mid-life crisis thing. If you are under 39 and reading this, just move on to the want ads. If you are “mature” and curious about what ship your ancestors arrived in, keep reading. I would like to help you find your roots, or at least find some fun mud.

Researching a family is not something that has an end. It is a journey. Before embarking on your personal journey, write down your goal! If you lose focus, researching rabbit trails can be overwhelming and discouraging. It may be your goal to make a connection to some President that your great-aunt told you was your ancestor. Maybe Daniel Boone is part of your tree. If you suspect a horse thief or slave holder was ancestor, you can save your time and money. Simply run for political office and someone else will investigate your family tree for free! I prefer to work with the enthusiastic researcher who does it just because he or she can. The fun is in the hunt, not the trophy. Now that you have a solid goal, your next step is, just do it. Don’t make it a New Year’s resolution forgotten by March, just start.

What’s that got to do with finding my ancestors ship, you say? Well, unless your family was a recent immigrant, you need to back track all the moves your previous generations made to get you to Northwest Colorado. Spoiler alert: that takes methodical (but fun) research which will be explained in our next issue, how to start your tree. I will explain where to find free or cheap resources locally or online. We will also cover the pitfalls of bad information poisoning your tree. 

Ed Peck can be reached through this newspaper and also the White River Museum on Park Ave. He is available for guidance at no cost. Contributions to the museum are encouraged.

By ED PECK


Special to the Herald Times

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