September 2012 Everything’s Relative

September 2012 Everything’s Relative

When does a genealogy obsession become too much? Readers share their stories of over-the-top family history passion.

When does an obsession become too much? If you’re talking about genealogy, it doesn’t—at least according to these readers. For sharing their stories of over-the-top family history passion, they’ll receive copies of our Spring 2012 Discover Your Roots bookazine.

Genealogy Rehab

I spend 16 hours a day researching, answering message board posts and “collecting” websites. Sleep has been whittled down to five hours since I “do genealogy” until 1:30 a.m., sometimes even 3:30.

I began a list of genealogy sources in 2010; it now has 57,750 entries. A daily Google alert delivers genealogy-related news to my inbox.

This isn’t just for my ancestry. I’m researching everyone else’s, too. One example: I bought old postcards at an antique store, researched the names, traced their descendants and sent my finds (for free).

Addicted? Not me! I can stop anytime I want! Anytime …

Anita Brubaker » Wilmette, Ill.

Moment of Truth

Six years ago, my mother, sister and I went on a camping trip out east. We visited ancestral homes in New York (the Knickerbocker Home), Massachusetts (the Wing Fort) and Delaware (the Allee House).

When I returned, my co-workers asked to see my vacation pictures. To my surprise, all but a few of the pictures were of old homes, cemeteries and tombstones—things they weren’t interested in. It was then I realized I was hooked on genealogy.
Charlyn Bailey » Ravenna, Mich.


All in the Name of Genealogy

I realized the depth of my genealogy addiction when I found myself in an old, unkempt cemetery on a deserted 195-acre chicken ranch in the backwoods of Arkansas. The weeds were long, the creepy crawling spiders and scorpions were everywhere, and many of the sunken grave sites had broken, unreadable tombstones.
Fighting a fear of spiders, I armed myself with boots, a hat, gloves, chalk, insect spray, a shovel and a camera. I stepped inside the cemetery gate. After 20 years of libraries, microfilm, interviews and spider-infested cemeteries, I had found them.

Rita Jones » Italy, Texas

Picture of Obsession

I’ve been hooked on genealogy for quite some time—spending hours hunting online, walking cemeteries and talking about my latest discovery to anyone who’d listen.

I fully understood the depths of my addiction when I began to purchase old photographs, hoping to return them to their rightful homes and loving families. If I couldn’t purchase a picture, I’d post information about it on any genealogy message board I could find. I love the history, the faces and the stories, and I just love doing genealogy.

Paige A. Pinder » Greensboro, NC
Your Story: Readers share family stories.

Photo Finish

During 2004, my mother was preparing to move from her New York home. Packing a lifetime of treasures proved to be a daunting task—one further complicated by an accumulation of her mother’s belongings. Piles of possessions came out of storage and were sorted to move, go to charity or be put in the trash.

One day, to my horror, I found old photographs discarded. To my mother, they were just pictures that had belonged to her parents. The images of unknown faces, taken in unknown places for unknown reasons, had no value. But to me, each one was a genealogical treasure, a mystery to be unraveled.
I’d been researching family history for years without making headway on my grandfather’s mother, Mary Scotts. Mary’s children at one point lived in an orphanage, so I assumed she was poor with no family—but as we all know, you can never assume. My brick wall was soon to be shattered by a photo rescued from the trash, which bore the inscription Victoria and Andrew (Scutz), Lorain, Ohio.
Meanwhile, Lisa Bandagski-Lutz was searching for her father’s maternal grandparents Andrew and Victoria Skocz, who’d immigrated to Lorain. Their daughter Mary Skocz Gryzlo proved to be a special challenge. In the early 1900s, Mary came to America from Poland with her family, and married Paul Gryzlo. After searching the better part of a year, Lisa found Paul and Mary on the 1910 census in Wyoming, NY, with three children. But then they disappeared without a trace.
Lisa had hopeful moments: A friend sent interesting documents listing all the aunts, and newspaper articles named a John Gryzlo who bought a house and a Mary Gryzlo who tried to save a Catholic priest from a fire at St. Raphael’s Church. But with nothing concrete to unite these stories, Mary remained a mystery.
Back in Brooklyn, I posted to genealogy message boards in desperation. Almost immediately, Lisa noticed. She asked if the Victoria and Andrew Skutz in my photo could possibly be her great-grandparents Andrew and Victoria Skocz.
We soon realized we were cousins, each with half of Mary’s story. I knew that in New York, she’d remarried and retrieved her children from the orphanage, except for a daughter who’d been adopted. She was widowed twice before changing her name to Scotts. My grandfather (who went by the name Grizzly) did buy that house in Brooklyn, and Mary tried to rescue the priest. Lisa had the earlier, Ohio story. There’d been no poverty; in fact, the family had plenty of money and property. But with that came bitter sibling rivalries. Lisa told me a tale of two wills, one contested, and the sibling lawsuits that followed.
We both believe it’s better to know the family’s truth, with all its joy and sorrow. And above all, we’re grateful to have found each other. We now work together to solve the remaining mysteries of our ancestors.
Valerie Damon » Tucson, Ariz.
From the September 2012 Family Tree Magazine

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