My mission, as part of my research for my next book, was to track down all of my great-grandmother’s children’s names and their descendants. I started with a decent foundation, as my aunt had continuously done a family tree with the bits and pieces of information she had learned as a young child.

However, some of the names and relationships on that paper were wrong. Also there was a 15-year difference in birth years between my grandfather and his oldest sister.

Add in that last names for the children would differ because of prior marriages, and finding the information I needed from the Census going back to 1880 could be daunting.

When I first started my search, it didn’t take me long to find my great-grandparents. But the census only listed two children and, according to family history, there should have been at least four. With a very common first name and last name, the task of trying to find the children could easily lead to a hair-tearing-out moment.

But I was determined, so after taking a mental health break from the tediousness of searching Ancestry.Com, I went back to my task.

Previously I had tracked down one of my grandfather’s sister’s great-grandaughters and great-great-granddaughter.

It is amazing how I am the third generation down from my grandfather but his siblings have children who are four and five generations down. But I did find them and even got to speak with them over the phone.

This past Friday, I tracked down the descendants of another sister. They too are four generations down and when I spoke with my cousin, he had no knowledge of his great-grandmother’s side of the family.

But he did put me in contact with his grandfather’s daughter, who was celebrating her 100th birthday. I spoke with her briefly and although her hearing isn’t as good as it once was, her mind is sharp.

I know a lot of people who want to do genealogical research. And the availability of the 1940 Census does make it easier to go backwards in one’s family history. I have found evidence that my grandfather’s brothers, whom he presumed had died, were still alive and living in different parts of the state back then.

I can’t wait to try and track down their living children to see what information I can gleam from them as we try to put their lives, which went on such divergent paths, into a singular one.

With every new find, I am adding additional surnames to my family tree. It is amazing the information that one tiny line on a Census record can give you. My grandfather had siblings who only completed first grade.

By the time my grandfather got to attend school he was able to attain a sixth-grade education. His children got high school diplomas and some even went to college.

I have become the family historian as I compile tons of pertinent information. It is fascinating to know that the lives I am looking back on are the ones that made me who I am.

My next step is to go to the Newberry Library to see what information they can access that I can use.

I have become an amateur genealogist and am loving it.

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