I’ve continued to look into this, and it has just gotten more and more interesting. It’s also been a great excuse to connect with my parents on stories from the past and with my grandmother (who has birth dates, marriage dates, and death dates back several generations written in her bible).

I’ve discovered all sorts of fun things:

  • There is a bust of one of my relatives in the Nashville library.
  • Several of my relatives died of “acute dysentery”.
  • The oldest Baptist church in the South was paid for by my 8th great grandfather.
  • At least a few of my relatives were wealthy enough to have paintings made of them before cameras existed.
  • It cost $1,250 to get married in Tennessee in 1908.
  • One of my cousins, Royce, has done a lot of work on my mom’s father’s side of the family. I have never met Royce, but we connected through this website and I’ve been sharing pictures to add to Royce’s trees.
  • My family has been living here in America for a very long time – since the early 1600s before it was the United States of America. Before that, there are roots in England and Germany (and one in Barbados). I anticipated finding more recent immigration roots, but that’s the opposite of what I found.
  • My grandfather was a football player in high school – I know this because I found his high school yearbook photo of him in his uniform.

When chatting with my dad about this yesterday, I also got to hear from him a pretty neat story about his experience on the day that JFK died that he hadn’t told me before. He was in 1st grade when JFK was killed in November 1963. It was his turn to “take the dimes down and pick up the ice cream and milk” for all of the other students, and that day he noticed that all of the cafeteria ladies were crying. As such a little boy, he somehow got confused and when he got back to his classroom reported to his teacher that his school principal had been shot. I imagine that, as a first grader, it actually would be sadder to hear about your principal being hurt than the president. You actually know your principal, after all.

If nothing else, I’m glad to have looked into my family tree to be able to hear stories like that.

I’ve gone pretty far back (more than 13-14 generations, into the 1500s) on two branches of my family tree, but haven’t yet dived completely into the other two branches (my dad’s father and my mom’s mother). At this point, there are over 1,400 “hints” that I still haven’t looked into (a feature of Ancestry where they suggest documents, pictures, and information that is likely connected to a person in your tree).

It’s a bit of a rabbit hole – easy to get lost in it and spend too much time, but oh so fun. I’m trying to also add value to pay back the information I’ve gotten from the hard work of others by adding some family photos, information, news articles, and interesting stories (like photos of my dad receiving the Bronze Star). I hope that others will find these over time and feel excited like I have been at finding neat things over the past month.