My Genealogical Journey, So Far
by Leonard H. Christie
Leonard Christie is a member of the board of MGS. This is an article that appeared in the May 2009 edition of the MGS Newsletter.|
Approximately two years before being retired, I became interested in genealogy. It started with a request made by a cousin who lives in Spain. She asked my brother to obtain the death certificate of our common great-grandfather. After viewing it, I was hooked. I realized that I didn't know much about our family and its origins except for the lineage recorded by my mother in a baby book. As a result, genealogy quickly became an obsession. It has been a journey to find out who my ancestors were, where they came from, when, why and how. It has meant relearning my American History through them from its beginnings through today because they were a part of and shaped by it in a personal way that you will not find in any history book. It has also meant learning the history of other nations as well, such as Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Holland and others.
It has now been more than 10 years since my journey began. It has been a joyous and wonderful hobby, even at times obsessive. I have met a few cousins. We shared data and explored graveyards together. Through bulletin boards and e-mail, I have made genealogical friends who have helped me and whom I have helped. It has taken me throughout New England, New York and New Jersey exploring graveyards, court houses, libraries, museums, historic locations, archives of many types, DNA testing and even a family homestead. I have been fortunate also to have been able to share these experiences with family members.
I believe in the importance of proving and documenting findings (citing sources). I have found some errors in my existing family genealogy and have had also to correct some of my own assumptions along the way. I have found it helpful to record why I believe something is so, based on my findings so far, even though I cannot yet prove it. This should prove useful to anyone who follows me.
When I started, I never thought I would have the success that I have had, but it happened because we are in a golden age of genealogy with the confluence of record availability, digitalization, Internet communications, software record management (I use The Master Genealogist) and genealogy organizations (member of the New England Historic & Genealogical Society and Middlesex Genealogical Society). Since I have been fortunate to have much success, I value the opportunity to help and educate others who are just beginning and to support the efforts of MGS.