Monday, March 31, 2014

"Why on earth are you doing this?"

This is a question I have been asked repeatedly.  I share stories with family and their eyes gloss over.  My poor wife has to hear about my latest finds and although she bears with me I'm not sure she understands.  I'm not sure I understand to be truthful.  Most often when I write to someone inquiring about something they've posted I find someone much older than myself.  They are usually surprised to find out they are corresponding with someone my age.  I guess sometimes the bug bites and once it does it can be hard to shake, no matter your age.  How did I get bitten?

In the 10th grade my English teacher Mr. Cochrane sent us home over Thanksgiving break with a simple task - talk to your grandparents - find out about your ancestry.  I thought it was a perfect assignment for me since I not only had all 4 of my grandparents still living but I had a full set of great grandparents (who happened to do Thanksgiving at my paternal grandparents' house).  I figured I was golden.  I sat down and talked to my great grandpa Nick Denhof (who was 91 at the time) and he said "my dad's name was Nick, my mom was Margaret Cook - they came here from the Netherlands".  That is all he would tell me and he seemed quite cranky about it.  It got worse when I talked to my great grandma Doris because she was given to her neighbors when she was 6 months old.  She knew who her parents were (and later it turns out she knew more than she told me) but that's all she discussed.  Quite frankly this lack of information ticked me off and got me curious.  I didn't have most of the tools I have now at my disposal back then (no computer, family tree software, internet access with databases galore) so it was a slow process but that's when I was bitten.  It's now been over 21 years since that Thanksgiving and I do something genealogy related on a daily basis. 
My great grandparents Nicholas and Doris (Colson) Denhof, Christmas Eve 1991

Testing the blogging waters

I spend far too much time working on my genealogy, especially given the 7 month winter we've had.  I decided I didn't have enough tying up my time and perhaps I should add more to my "to do" list so hey, why not give blogging a try?

In all seriousness - I've built quite the family tree since 1992 (44993 names currently) and have tried various formats for sharing the information.  I'm currently working on building my part of the family tree and have been active on for almost 8 years but nothing I've done tells the stories behind the people or how I came upon the information I found.  I'm not sure what direction this blog will take or how often I'll be able to update it but hopefully it will be a way to preserve in a more personal way the work I've put into this obsessive hobby of mine.