Question of the Week: How'd you catch the genealogy bug?

+29 votes

imageHow did you catch the genealogy bug?

Tell us about it with an answer below! You could also answer on Facebook or share the question image on social media to get your friends and family talking.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
I got My Bug , when I was about 9 , my grandmother used to tell me stories about how our was involved in many things involving  in the History of New England ,also my cousins showed many  places in Boston , where our families lived , and where they were buried , I still have the this bug today

, as of today I've have over 41, 000  people in my tree  and still researching

113 Answers

+27 votes

I became interested in genealogy back in the early 80's when my father's siblings (all sisters) decided to have a family reunion. It was at this reunion that they started writing down their family’s history. After the reunion, my mother and I spent numerous hours going to our local Carnegie library where we began the search for ancestors. I found genealogy a fascinating hobby ever since.

by Tommy Buch G2G6 Pilot (919k points)
I only started to be interested in genology when my son asked for a DNA test for Christmas. 2019 I ended up getting one for myself and also for both my parenst and for my best friend.

Since then I have dedicated 100s of hours to researching parish records, census, and any documents that will give me clues to my ancestors. I am also investigating their ethnticities and where they lived plus any genetic traits they may have passed down. I also discovered that some of my late ancestors have also done family trees. I have found Ancestry, my heritage and find my past very helpful in finding births, marriages and death certificates along with census details, but have also found the Archives in Kew and free local parish registers very helpful Not to forget fellow memebers of Wiki tree who have been a great help. I do have a few frustrating brick walls which one day I hope to break down.Some of my family and friends think im a bit obsessed but once you get the gene bug it does make you a bit obsessive and you kind of turn into a mini detective.

One of the things I never expected was that my friend who is from Spain actually shares a common ancestor who is French but whose ancestors were from Bari Italy about 250 years ago.

Genanet is very good for getting DNA matches from cousins from all over the world and you can look at their family trees and try to make connections.Yesterday I got a DNA match from a distant cousin whose surname sounded very familiar and it turns out that he is the great great grandson of my great aunt´s husband.

At the end of the day everyone is connected through either marriage or other relationships and we are all one big happy family!
+25 votes

I wrote a blog post about this for the 52 ancestors challenge in 2018.

Here is what started it for me.

My husband's grandfather's suitcase.

by Hilary Gadsby G2G6 Pilot (228k points)
+28 votes

I was just one of those kids that liked to listen to the stories adults were telling when they gathered. Maybe it helped that my nearest cousins were several years younger than me, so I would prefer to sneak away from them when I could.

The next logical step is remembering the stories, particularly the old-timey stories. I was always interested in information and knowledge, and hated the idea that knowledge might be lost. My family got a book to write down genealogy information when I was maybe 12, and my sister and I led the effort to fill in the book.

Then when my great-uncle died, we were going thru his things, and I found a soap dish that had an ancestors name on it. Nobody knew who that ancestor was, and it was the oldest date I had seen (born 3-24-1791) so that's what really kicked off my imagination.

by Rob Neff G2G6 Mach 8 (83.8k points)
As far as I can tell we all have one thing in common. curiosity plus a desire to know who we really are. We are all like mini Sherlock Holmes.
Yes! Exactly!
+23 votes

My eldest daughter gave me a 23 & Me kit for Christmas a few years ago, and that's pretty much how I got started. My paternal grandmother's family had been well researched and documented by my great uncle and his son, but the other lines in my family were pretty much a mystery. I started digging around on Family Search, then found WT, and here I am! Slowly figuring things out. wink

by John Vaskie G2G6 Mach 3 (34.9k points)
+36 votes

Among the family stories my mother told, was one about her cousin George who was murdered in a garage during Prohibition, while he was involved in rum-running.  But when I found George's FindAGrave memorial, it showed him dying in 1995 the at the age of 103. So, no.  But I had to find the story behind the story.

Took years to track down, but (short version) - it was George's brother who was murdered during Prohibition, but nothing to do with that; George did later die in a garage, but by suicide; and the FindAGrave death date was massively wrong.

Moral of the story-- don't believe ANYTHING until you've verified it!  laugh

by Nan Starjak G2G6 Pilot (306k points)
Totally agree with you. On my heritage many had my ´great grandfather´s death down as 1969 which would have made him 103.My aunt in Ireland actually went to the grave and sent me a photo and it turned out that he was born in 1866 and died in 1938.  Never trust other people´s family trees and always verify information. We all learn from our mistakes!
I spend more time suggesting edits that are either missing the dates even though they are clearly marked on the gravestones, or the info is in the memorial bio...oh and countless duplicate memorials because folks either don't do the research to see if a memorial has already been created!  Even some of our own family members had duplicates.  My favorite thing to do is to link family members when I located and verify their information.
Tracey, I had an older first cousin, that told me that without a document source that I had verified that nothing existed.  I did not understand that at first, but it did not take me very long to fully understand exactly what she was talking about.
Lori, you and I do a lot of the same things. I am very often suggesting edits for full names with nicknames and full dates and locations of births and deaths.  It amazes me at the incorrect dates, even when fully readable on the tombstones or in they obituary that are with their bio.  I am just glad that people make the edit suggestion and that they are checked before they are just change.
That's like my 2nd grt. grandfather on my paternal line. Somewhere like 50 years ago, someone published that this grandfather's parent were so and so. I corresponded with a direct descendant of the supposed parents and found that he had no ancestor's who were MD'S. This particular grandfather was an MD. He died as a result of treating patients during the Cholera epidemic of the 1840's in Missouri. I just recently found out that there were two separate genetic lines of Pucketts that came to America  at the same time in the 1600's and were all lumped together as brothers but weren't.  So how many lines are messed up because people weren't able to use accurate data.
+25 votes
I had received several letters from my great uncle detailing some genealogy details but I could not do much about them. There were currently no records available in NZ and I was not yet online to find anything.

When I moved to Canada I was finally able to be online and Canadian records were much more easily available that I spent a year or two doing my husbands family!!

Eventually when access to NZ online records improved, I finally started on my own family as well.

That plus the fact that UK Records were now also online and much more easily available as well.

This was 20 years ago. I joined Wikitree in Dec 2016 so my 6th year anniversary will be in Dec 2022.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
I was contacted last year by a guy that found one of my distant paternal great- grandfather's on WT.  He had somewhere around 50 original documents dating from mid 1700's to mid 1800's that he bought at an auction.  If I didn't want them he was go toss them!  I agreed to take possession of them so he mailed them to me.  I was shocked when I opened the package and looked through them with a pair of tweezers.  Went and purchased sheet protectors so I could handle them.

After I scanned everything in to my computer.  He had also been contacted by another family member but it turned out her ancestor was a great uncle so she didn't want the paper. Most were property deeds from Guilford, CT so I googled and located their historical museum.  They were ecstatic to receive the documents!  They were even able to send some to Richmond pertaining to one of my great-uncles.

I can't fathom throwing out original documents!  They are history for Heaven's sake!
+24 votes
I'd always been fascinated with ancestry, ever since I was a child and grasped the concept that my grandparents were my parent's parents, and then realised that they will have had parents and so on. Then as I got older and started learning about my close extended family, I realised that my ancestors would have also had other children who had children who had children... Then of course the thought crossed my mind, hey, maybe we're all related!

The more historical part of it (what they did and how they lived) came after watching the Roots TV series. I was born after it was released, but the school I went to used it to teach us about slavery in the US. So then I read the book and learned that it was primarily a family history. That then got me wondering whether I had any ancestors involved in the slave trade. Thankfully, I haven't found any yet!
by Day Garwood G2G6 Mach 1 (15.4k points)
My ancestors lived in New York and New England, so they did not have big slave-holding plantations. When I discovered that some of them had had slaves, I thought, "wow, I did not know my ancestors were so rich."
I was born and raised in New Zealand and never thought I would ever have any connection to the slave trade, but a Peyton cousin (DNA proven and link found and known) in Canada has black American descendants of slaves in his DNA matches - we are still searching for the family link to prove it, but we know because of the DNA matches it is there somewhere, we are linked somewhere to the sons of Sir Henry Peyton, 3 of whom owned plantations in America.

You never know what is going to turn up with genealogy.
I knew that my great great grandfather was the son of slaves in Jamaica as the story had been told in the family but thats all they knew. My mother told me that he had left jamaica and come to England in the mid 1800s and become a baptist preacher. Totally wrong. I investigated and he had been born in Kingston jamaica in 1837 just after slavery had been abolished and he had joined the Royal navy as an Able bodied seaman and had worked his way up to a cheif petty officer and Captian of the hold before marrying my English great great grandmother in Harwich Essex. I did discover a slave list from 1817 that stated that his father had been born in 1799 and was owned by a Scottish slave owner called Robert  Waugh Esq. Jamaica had many Scottish slave owners and many ex slaves took the surnames of them and that is why today many coloured people have surnames such as Bruce or Campbell. to name but two.

Sometimes you even have to be wary of family stories as they can become very distorted over the years.
+23 votes
My mother wanted to get on the Mayflower.  My father's family made it, but the best I could do for her was 1630.
by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (333k points)
When i discovered that I too had a Mayflower ancestor, I told me sister. She said, "I was in Plymouth once. There's a doll museum." She's the only one in the family that got excited.
+23 votes
I was a bored teenager staying at my granny’s house… I started asking questions about her siblings…. And then my other grandparent’s siblings, and so it started. I often leave it for months occasionally years at a time and come back to it.

I still have that original, done in ink pen on paper, 3 generation tree complete with lots of mistakes (granny would refer to Cissie and Margaret and I’d assume they were different people for example). I guess it dates from about 1981.
by L Greer G2G6 (7.1k points)
+23 votes
I am pretty certain I was born with it.  At age 18 I was in North Carolina and called my grandmother back home in Arkansas to ask exactly where our Gean ancestors lived in NC,  because I wanted to go see the area.  All she knew was "near Raleigh".  I've been researching ever since and have gone back to NC several times to do research and visit the areas they lived in.
by Renee Newman G2G6 (8.4k points)
+24 votes
It's hereditary!!

I got it from my mom!  I became the caretaker of her records and have built on them since. It's her legacy to the family.
by Daniel Volkmann G2G4 (4.0k points)
+25 votes

My journey started in 1977, after seeing the mini-series 'Roots' on TV, & then reading the book smiley

by Craig Seller G2G1 (1.1k points)
I remember watching the series as a kid, Years later I discovered that one side of my family had ancestors who were actually from the Mandinka tribe which if I can remember correctly was the same tribe as Kunta Kinte!
+22 votes

 I was a teenager when my father's cousin, Phyllis (Hurd) Smith shared some of her discoveries with us. Of particular interest were a transcript she'd prepared of what my 2nd great grandfather had written of his experiences as a soldier in the GAR, 9th New Hampshire during the U.S. Civil War, and Mayflower lineage. I was, and remain, more intrigued by the process of research than how closely we are connected to a particular notable person. Everyone has a story!

You can read my 2nd great grandfather's memoir at

by Anonymous Reed G2G6 Mach 5 (58.9k points)
+22 votes
A relation on my paternal branch did extensive research and shared updates frequently, while a relation on maternal side did a lot of research but couldn't get her to share any of it, so felt the need to put all of known ancestors online to help others  and then started digging for the maternal ancestors, getting them posted so others can find their relations, also.
by Patricia Roche G2G6 Pilot (535k points)
+23 votes
I was also visiting my grandparents in the early 1970's and my grandfather had a several hundred page genealogy of the Dreibelbis family, from which he and I are descended.  I was fascinated.

I still have that genealogy sitting on the bookshelf by my desk at home.
by Roger Stong G2G6 Pilot (542k points)
+24 votes

My late mother had spoken often about her ancestors arriving in Roxbury, MA in 1632 on the Lyons. She had an envelope with the family coat of arms and enough detail about her grandmother's membership in the D.A.R. to apply and qualify to become a member. A dozen years after she passed (shortly before the internet age began) I had the good fortune to read a post by a distant cousin who turned out to be our family genealogist, . Before she passed in 2013, she was very giving of her time and guidance. I took her leads in solving two longstanding brick wall mysteries and might have been hooked just learning from and working with her, but I also found this on my own and realized this happened less than 25 miles from where I lived. The house built in 1799 that my mother's grandmother's grandfather had moved to its present location in 1822, where his son (my mother's grandmother's father) was born in 1839 and had been in the family until at least 1982 when the childless, batchelor descendant passed away, (Edward Gumprecht, co-founder, with his mother, Jennie Johnson Gumprecht, of the Curtis-Curtiss Society in 1939 in Stratford, CT) had been turned into, "a hood ornament on an office park." I committed to gaining enough knowledge and awareness to try to avoid a loss of such family heritage again, if I have anything to say about it! Current appearance of 1799 Orrin Curtiss house vs. 1934 WPA Architectural survey photo.:

by T.j. Fahey G2G1 (1.7k points)
edited by T.j. Fahey
+22 votes
In 1988 my parents were approached by a woman searching for where her father family was.

Apparently he was a World War One soldier who lost all his memory with a head wound and settled in another state.   I helped with the research and have not stopped since.
by NG Hill G2G6 (6.6k points)
+21 votes
As a lad growing up, such matters were not discussed and kids were sent out the room when the adults were talking, so oral family history was missing.

Much later, my aunt gave me a handwritten copy of the research she had done pre-internet days.

Twenty years later, my youngest daughter asked me what I knew about our family history, so I started researching based on my aunts research. The rest is history.
by Leslie Cooper G2G6 Mach 3 (35.3k points)
+22 votes
Well surprisingly, I never thought I would have an interest in genealogy. I don't have much to do with my closer generation family - they aren't exactly nice people. Then when I was away for a weekend, I stumbled across the name of one of my ancestors and it has positive things to say about him. So I looked into it more and found out some really interesting things about him. So then I thought, "well maybe I do have some nice ancestors and the horrible genes are only recent" so I went looking. I got completely hooked because of the sleuthing aspect. I find it exciting to try to solve the puzzles of who was born to whom etc. And if I can find out even more about them, their stories, it is even more exciting.
by Melanie White G2G6 Mach 1 (10.6k points)
+20 votes

In 1982 we spent a year traveling, and during that time my dad took the opportunity to stop into this little town called Dixon Springs Tennessee.  At first people were suspicious of us, then when my dad mentioned who we were related to, we were invited into the churches to see the records, over for dinner as we were family.

A few years later my great grandmother died in 1985, she left me an original hand drawing of her grandmother with a few notes from her. 

By the time I was 20, all of my dad's family, including him, were gone and I wanted to know who they were, who was this mysterious women in the image from about 1860-1870?

Luckily about that time Family Tree maker came out, computers became within human reach.  I was in Canada, so a cousin from the states would mail me stamps so I could enclose the postage paid envelope for a record.

Then this odd thing called the internet was released... and email became a real thing.. thus the curiosity turned into an addiction. 

by Kristina Wheeler G2G6 Mach 1 (14.2k points)

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