I have been working on this project since I was a teenager. I sat down with my Parents, Grandparents, my Great Aunt Betty, Great-Great Aunt Mary, Aunt Lucy and Aunt Dory, Aunt Eleanor and Cousin Janie (Betty Jane) who held the Girard Family Bible, which she later entrusted to me. My Godmother, Aunt Lucy, has also entrusted me with the Cathcart Family Bible. All of my family elders have openly provided as much information as they could remember. To my credit, I did listen to their stories and now appreciate the repetition. But I guess there will always remain mysteries. Aunt Mary had done a similar project, but lost the documentation in a flood. Her legacy was a treasure trove of Civil War photos, personal letters, stories and documents. I tried to listen to the stories and ask questions so that I could understand what life was like for our ancestors. Over the years I have continued to look for facts and follow-up, through the mail, or by public records requests, phone calls and interviews.
I created my first family tree chart using a program called "First Choice" (on the first computer I used with a DOS based system).
I created and linked text boxes together, with results very much like what I can do with a click on FTM. For the first time, I could print out the results and share it with others. That was when I started to add the extended family. I try to update the records, add the new babies, record the loss of loved ones, or add new details and discoveries. I have also expanded my searches to include the family of my Sister-In-Law, and have traced her family back to the early 1600s.
Ultimately, this work (that is probably the longest and most consistent thing I have ever done) is my legacy to my nieces and nephews and all of the decendents of our elders.
I hope someday, I will meet these people that I never knew in life, but have come to love so much and whose lives gave life to all of those that I love.