My journey into genealogy began innocently enough when, in March of 2001, the Ellis Island web site opened. I knew that both my father's parents had come to America through Ellis Island; and so, late one night while surfing the web, I thought I would try to get into this impossible-to-access site. Lo and behold, I got into it; but many attempts later, I still had not found either one of my ancestors. A frustrated call to Dad told me that although I knew their names to be Henry and Ann, they came to America as Heinrich (spelled Heinrick by the ship's officer, but that's another story) and Anna. Another late-night attempt, and there they were -- Grandma and her mother; Pappy, his parents and two sisters. "No, my father had one older brother and one younger sister," says Dad. "No, the ship's manifest says he came with his parents, and sisters Anna and Rosie." "No, he had an older brother, Edward, and a younger sister, Anna."
And so began my interest -- at times obsession -- in genealogy. You could almost hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner, sucking me in. I have learned about brick walls and how to overcome them. I have searched through dusty, yellowing, brittle church records. I have even dragged my poor father and younger daughter on a "cemetery tour" to learn about my (our?) ancestors. I have discovered that one step forward often means two steps back. I have yet to unearth the scandal my older daughter is hoping for, and I still have not learned who Rosie is . . . or was . . . yet.