Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Internet and Lost Relatives

I started doing family history research about 15 years ago as when internet research was just blooming. Initially I got all the information together I could about my immediate family and worked backwards from there, as you should.

Of course then Genes Reunited took off and more people became interested with the advent of the Who Do You Think You Are? series. At the time this put me in touch with a few third cousins doing research as well and my tree expanded through collaboration with this people. I am especially grateful to a couple in Derby called the Brown’s who had done a massive amount of research on the Brown family from Ilkeston before internet research made things quicker to reference. I went to visit them and they had all their evidence collected and would gladly share it with me. With a name in my past like Brown I was very grateful.

The more unreal things that have happened are as follows;

I have met my wife’s 7th cousin several times at work and they live not a mile away from me. Our common ancestor being from about 300 years earlier.

Myself and my father-in-law met up one New Years Eve with his 3rd cousin who came all the way from New Zealand researching his family.

I have been in contact with my wife’s 10th cousin whose connected relation was from about 1650.

I moved on from Genes Reunited as I started to get weary of their website and some of the people using it and started using instead. I put my research out there to find living people who might be connected to our family and in an exchange of information I was after getting so images out of them of their ancestors to add to my collection. Names, dates and occupation of ancestors are great but nothing can beat a picture of someone’s face which you can insert in your tree and their image won’t be forgotten.

Doing all these things have been fun but not my greatest thrill.

The best time I have had is quite recently. My father-in-law lost touch with the two sisters of his dad as they moved away from Nottingham and over time contact faded. I found this happens when the parents pass away and direct common link is there no more.

Well, finding living people can be sometimes difficult but after a bit of persistence I managed to find father-in-law’s cousins from Hull to find one had moved back to Nottingham and worked in a shop that my wife goes in all the time. The two sisters from this family hadn’t seen each other for a while either so I arranged a family get together back in Hull so we could all meet up and all say hello again.

My father-in-law’s other aunt (Annie) was a little more difficult as they had moved to Australia in the 1950’s, had stayed in touch with Annie’s mother but this contact reduced when her mother died. I think there was something more about this but not quite sure. Anyway, their names were Atkinson so finding the family was going to be impossible.

Janet was a daughter of Annie and in the earlier 1970’s decided that Australia wasn’t for her so did some travelling around Europe and then stayed with my parents-in-law in Nottingham for a while before moving on to Canada. Well, after 40 years Janet decided to do some family history research as well and because I’d put my information on Ancestry she emailed me to ask a question not realising that she was so closely related to us.

It’s brought back a lot of memories for Janet and she also gave me the information that Annie at the grand old age of 97 is still alive and, although bedridden, has all her facilities. She also remembers my wife, although the last time she saw her was at 2 years old so she has changed somewhat since then.

Although sometimes computers can be a pain and a thing someone of Janet’s age can be reluctant to learn from scratch recently like she has I am so glad she did.