My name is Brenda Pechacek (Smith) and Ancestry Research has become my new passion in life. I used to dismiss the need to do the research when my mother mentioned it thinking that it wasn't worth the effort. I would ask her "why does it really matter now". Well I was wrong it does matter because like the old saying "you don't know where you are until you know where you've been.
I started my research about 2 months ago. The two names I started with were Smith and VanZandt. My mother, Wanda (VanZandt) Smith had already done a lot research and had names and dates about 6 generations back on the VanZandt side of the family. Also the good thing is the VanZandt side of the family is quite well know in the United States. The VanZandt Society is well established and has an annual reunion each year. They met in Galveston, Texas in 2001.
I am a direct decendent of Garret Stoffese VanZandt one of first VanZandts to come to America in the early 1600's. Garret came from the Netherlands (Holland) and came to New Amsterdam (a colony on Manhattan Island) in 1651 and bought land at Yellow Hook under the jurisdiction of the Town of Utretch. He married Elizabeth Gerritise in 1668 and had 11 children. In the 1690's and several of his sons began purchasing large amounts of land in Bucks County, PA. Garrett and his entire family moved to Bucks County in 1695, this group became what is known as the Bucks County line of VanZandts. I was able to trace my VanZandt side of the family easily on lds.org (the free site managed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).
My mother's maternal side of the family was Hughes and I have also trace this family by data already compiled by lds.org. My Hughes family came to America in the mid-1700's from the Wales (now part of the United Kingdom). William Hughes was born in 1706 in Carmarten, Wales. His first wife had the last name of "Amey" (first name unknown) and I am still researching this information. William Hughes and his wife had my one son in Wales in 1752 who they name John Hughes, my great grandfather. The family later moved to America and settled in Baltimore, Maryland and had 4 more children.
I have been very successful in tracing the paternal and maternal decendants of both these families using mostly the internet on the sites, geneology.com. ancestery.com and lds.com.
Now comes my biggest challenge in tracing back by father's side of the family, Smith and Branch. I used the 1900 census to find my grandfather and grandmother Branch but have still not been successful in tracing my grandfather Smith family. I am still looking for Benjamin Smith originally from Texas who may have moved to Oklahoma in the early 1900's.