Where did this addiction start for me? Well, I have a close friend who about a year ago married a close friend of my husband's. While visiting with her mother one day, the five of us suddenly realized that my friend and my husband were cousins! We were certain of it, but couldn't figure out where the connection was. We joked about it and then forgot about it.
A few weeks ago, that same friend and I stumbled onto a genealogy website and started searching for information about our relatives. We were surprised to find information about people we knew the names of. Well, several hours later we finally stopped looking and I'd been bit by the bug. I had to know more and find a way to be sure that these people were who I thought they were.
At the time, the only family history I knew about was basically what had happened in the past 25 years or so. I remembered going to family reunions as a child where the last name was Buirley and I remembered some of the names of people I'd met there. I knew my mother's maiden name was Hatfield and that her mother's maiden name was Brown and that Great-Grandma Brown had passed away in a nearby town just after I got my driver's license when I was 16. I also knew that my other grandmother's maiden name had been Heitz and she was born in a town several hours from here. Her husband had been my grandpa Zimmerman and his mother's given name was Maggie. Also, I remembered his sister's name was Mamie Shipp.
So off to my grandma's I went to ask for information. Low and behold, Mamie was not my grandpa's sister, but his Aunt! And to my good fortune, both she and my Great-Grandma Maggie were pack rats! (So now I know where I got it!) My grandma told me to go to the old trunk in her old bedroom upstairs, she didn't know what was in it, but it all belonged to Maggie and Mamie. At one time she had thrown in a few things herself, but she no longer remembered what. She told me to use whatever I found, just take it home and bring it back when I was done.
Let me tell you, if I could have lifted that trunk, the whole thing would have been in my CAR'S trunk! It was a goldmine of information. There was a detailed history of the Buirley family (which I quickly found out was Maggie's maiden name!), obituaries for many different names that fit into that history, hand written stories in notebooks from the late 1800's, information about people moving and where to, birth certificates written in German from the 1700's, and more photographs with names and dates than I could look at in years! I was in Heaven! Unfortunately, it was much to large and heavy to carry so the trunk and most of its contents sat right there.
Fortunately, I only live about two blocks from Grandma and visit often so I've been shuttling documents and pictures ever since! All of my free time has gone into deciphering what all those pieces of paper are, who they pertain to, and how the puzzle fits together. Poor Grandma is so tired of answering questions, but seems to enjoy it at the same time. I've found things she no longer knew existed and they've brought back many happy memories.
I only wish I had caught the bug sooner, while my Great-Grandparents were living and I could have visited them and hopefully seen many more happy memories. From what I've seen, they were a very happy, loving and close family. If only I had know then...