MY DAD became quite the genealogist in the last 30 or so years of his life. He would tell me some of the things he learned, but it was never as interesting to me as he probably would have liked it to be. Now, I wish I knew more.
How will it feel to visit a place my ancestors walked out of to find their way to a sailing ship to the New World?
Years ago I gave my dad Reunion genealogy software for the Mac. After he died in 2013, I got a copy of the family history file from his computer. As luck would have it, as the actual purchaser, I was able to download the software and confirm the file was intact. A few months ago I purchased the latest version.
I learned yesterday the base library has a subscription to ancestry.com. This reminded me my dad had once told me we had some German ancestors. That surprised me, because I was under the impression that side of the family* was “all British.” Last night I started up the computer, opened the file and searched for German ancestors. I found a name and a town. I googled that combination. The top hit was for someone descended from the same person! (I’ve emailed her, waiting for a response.)
The town of Eisern in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia only had about 250 people when the whole Rehlsbach family left for Virginia in the mid 1700s and became the Railsback family. Some five generations later, I’m writing about it. Eisern is about 1-1/4 hours from where I am now. Road trip!
I was born in the Navy town of Oak Harbor, Washington. We moved to Memphis, Tennessee when I was a month old. I’ve visited Oak Harbor maybe ten times since. Each time, I’ve thought “I should feel like I am at home here” but I don’t. It’s not my home, but it has significance. My brothers have all spent much more time there than me. Aside: This may be the only thing in my life I wish I could go back and do differently.
If my birthplace makes me feel odd, how will it feel to visit a place my ancestors walked out of to find their way to a sailing ship to the New World? There were no trains, planes, or automobiles in those days.
Back to the digital records. Each record includes some bit of information, at a minimum the person’s relationship with people before and/or after. The record also indicates my dad last updated his own record more than ten years before he died. Looking at it now it appears as if he were 83. It makes me feel sad to think about changing it, but it’s probably apropos his record is the first one I should edit as I take a small step towards learning about Genealogy myself.
*I had long known that I have a couple German great grandparents on my mother’s side. There’s not really enough German density in the family to explain why I like this country so much.