Question of the Week: What do you think it is that keeps you hooked into this hobby/obsession?

+47 votes

What do you think it is, that keeps you hooked into this hobby / obsession? Validation of Family History? Unraveling Family threads? Tracing inheritance or land ownership? Medical conditions? Preserving family culture? Reconnect with Family? Family legacy? Share your reasons!

in The Tree House by Deborah Collier G2G6 Mach 3 (37.9k points)
Apart from the joys of finding out who we are connected with, whether blood relations or by marriage, the greatest need of most humans is that of SECURITY! Finding out that we are truly not alone, not separate individuals gives us a strong feeling of belonging to one world wide community. What greater feeling of security is there than that! It should also make us realise that we are,together, responsible for everything that happens!
I have come to find myself hooked on this hobby because growing up I did not know anything about my extended family or where they cam e from as far as i knew it was me and my brothers, my parents, my dads brothers, and my mums parents and my grandfather on dads side. But since having a child of my own it has made me think and realise I want my child to know her family history and for my child to know that I have tried what I can to help preserve this for the future
I too have this problem. It is the need to solve the mystery.

I have a vested interest to find who, and anything I can about my Biological Father. So I become biased. This fact drives me , but when I started this adventure I was given a great gift from a person that I was about to find out that I was completely incorrect about his surname. He asked me what I really wanted out of all this. I listed all of my focus to somehow organize my thoughts. A week later because of my persistence I found the mother part of my question. Because of the great people I have met along the way , it has been a great pleasure to know what people are made of.

I was the only child of older parents. We rarely lived near family. I always wanted family. The year I was 9 we attended a family gathering during a campmeeting. 90 relatives made me want to know more and I wanted to know all about them all. 60 years later I still want more. It makes me feel connected and I still get excited "meeting" new relatives.
In my bedroom are pictures of my Mother at age 3 so it was take in 1907. There is a picture of my mother's grandmother (she lived to 103) and pictures of my 4x great grandparents. IF that isn't enough my gr gr grandmother was given a dresser for her 8th birthday. The family made furniture. It had been passed on to my Grandmother when she married. On my 8th birthday that dresser was passed on to me. I'd been using orange crates that were made in two sections. A DRESSER with 4 large drawers and on top were two more drawers and the middle section had a lid that lifted and remained hidden under a pretty crocheted doily grandma had made for me. I sleep surrounded with all that family. How can I not want to know them all.
There are so many secrets and lies in my family tree and in my husband's family tree that I just want to sort out the truth and finally have an accurate family tree to give to my daughter and hopefully my father before he passes as he has no information at all about his family.  All he knows is who is mother is.  That has been a huge brick wall.  The biggest family mystery that I am determined to break down before he dies I hope.  He turned 75 on 9/11.
Me too, and I have few in my tree!

Finding interesting family connections -- it's especially fun to turn up someone who was prominent and I had no previous notion there was a relationship.  Or finding interesting facts -- e.g., an ancestor whose wife bore him 21 children. When their youngest was 8, she died, and 6 weeks later he remarried.  He was a Quaker living on Long Island and the meeting "dealt with" him for remarrying too soon.  Apparently they didn't like his response because they kicked him out of meeting.

Then recently I've been investigating interactions between my paternal line (plus connected families) and Indians -- and found a lot!!  running a whole gamut -- from humorous to horrifying, from maarriages to massacres.  There is even one family connection whom Indians, tortured, then burned at the stake.

I'm especially intrigued by the frontiersmen and their lifestyle -- what a contrast with our lives today!



I actually like the research.  I can sit down at my computer for hours looking for someone.  I also like to see the joy on peoples faces when I am able to find someone or something in their family history that they have looked for.  I feel like I am doing some little thing to help out people wanting to find their connection to their world and the world at large.  I think it roots people, makes them comfortable in their place in their world and lets them go on to do other things.

49 Answers

+9 votes
I started researching my family tree because we didn't know who my mom's biological dad was.  I was hoping to discover his identity and his ancestral line and ended up on a road to discover so much more!  On my mom's maternal side I knew we came from the Midwest, and beyond that I had no idea.  I was surprised to find our family has been here since colonial times, and I have several ancestors who fought in the American Revolution!!  I had no idea!!  I have since solved the mystery of my maternal grandfather through DNA and that was a great feeling.  But I have to say I'm hooked - it's like a treasure hunt!!  And it's definitely addicting!!!  I have DNA accounts and trees for 19 people now - my husband calls me the DNA collector:)   So much fun.
by Laurel Grose G2G1 (1.6k points)
+8 votes
My mother emigrated from England in 1956 with my American Air Force father.  I've always been interested in finding out who 'we" are, even back in high school.  Now I have raised a child to become a history teacher, and my husband is also a family researcher.
+7 votes
For me it's a personal belief. The best way to sum it up is, "To honor is to remember". It's a way to remember them for generations to come.
by J Murray G2G6 Mach 3 (35.1k points)
+7 votes
I was interested in the history of my family. My paternal grandfather was born in Scotland. My paternal grandmother was a native American born on a reservation in Northern California. I was looking for more info on my grandmother because she was orphaned at 2 years of age. When I didn't find much on them, I decided to track my mother's side of the family. Wow! I learned that the Agee clan is famous and I was able to trace my tree to 1695 in France. My grandmother was an eighth generation direct descendant of the first American Agee, an immigrant from France during the Exodus of the French Protestants. I got hooked!
by Jeannette Amador G2G Crew (690 points)
+6 votes
The opportunity it gives me to work on my frustration at not knowing ALL THE THINGS. Every new person I work on has a little something that is new to me.

I go off, do the research to learn something new, and incorporate it in to all the other things I already know, looking for patterns. But none of it is immediate to my every day life so, if something becomes overwhelming, I have the option of walking away before I get stressed or bored.
by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (296k points)
+6 votes
For me, it's like I'm helping to put together the biggest puzzle in the world. Sometimes it takes you a long time to find the piece you are looking for, but when you do, what a rewarding feeling! Strangely, the fact that there there are literally billions of pieces in this particular puzzle doesn't bother me one bit....
by Paul Hancock G2G6 (6.7k points)
+5 votes

I have a very investigative nature. For me it is the intrigue and need for solving the mysteries to unravel the past. I'm a fact finder and need to be satisfied that I have all the information I could have possibly gathered and can feel certain I am accurate in what I'm claiming.  I have found with genealogy, like the legal system, documentation is EVERYTHING. 

I started my tree as a fluke when trying to gain information to locate my husband's birth father while pregnant with my son.  I realized when asking my Dad about his grandparents to fill in my basic tree, that he hardly had any information to help me, He had no idea he was his Grandfather's name sake!  A fact I uncovered as I started to trace my line.  I had no idea what door I was about to open,  My only regret is I was not interested while the people who could have been the most valuable sources are now passed away.  

I always felt like I knew "enough" about my Russian family on my maternal side only knowing my Grandmother, her siblings and their parents names. I knew my Grandfather's name and his father and with Russian naming tradition the names tell you about their line.  For a long time I was satisfied with the information I had.  

What started as a casual project has become a full blown obsession. The harder the mystery the more determined I am to solve it. Leaving no stone unturned and unwilling to accept defeat. The answers are out there somewhere!  I gather clues and put them together to paint a story and get a sense of who my ancestor was. The more I get the more i want to know. My husband and family think i am crazy. My husband will every now and then say "OK how far are you now?" My mom and little sister always say "You are still working on your tree?"  They have no idea what actually is involved.  

Because of my work I have recently discovered and connected with family on my father's side that i never knew existed. Unfortunately there are large degrees of estrangement in every generation in his tree. I only ever knew his sisters and neither of them had any children. The sad thing is his mother could never connect with my sister and I who were her only two grandchildren. 

Because my mother's family is so close I feel cheated on my dad's side.  Now I have cousins! I have also reconnected with my dad's sister who had verbal history passed to her, old photos and documents, She thought she would work on the tree when she retired in a few years. Not only did i surpass her information but my fact finding helped fill in blanks for her with the verbal history and her verbal history explained the documentation that i had found which had peeked my curiosity. Then both of us found more mysteries to solve and when I find things I am texting or emailing her.  it is very exciting to both of us to discover new information.  So it has been the start of a fun and incredible journey through time.

by Zoiya Tate G2G6 Mach 3 (32.5k points)
+5 votes
I figure that my whole life, everyone around me, whether consciously or subconcuosly has tried to keep me down and I've always fought for great things. It's in me to make a difference. what keeps me hooked is to stay in this mode of alertness as long as I can. I am a watchman for my family and friends and I always try to stay awake and prepared in case any changes arise. I would do anything to fullfill my calling and protect the people I love. During these times it is my duty to stay watch, to be alert and push myself to protect my origins, family and country.
by Augusto cesar Lopez Obando G2G Crew (350 points)
+2 votes
Watching to see if someone tries to steal my copyrights again.
by G B G2G3 (3.2k points)
+5 votes
it was over 30 years ago now but i still remember asking my aunties about our family the main reason at the time was my son was born with a very rare disorder and we where told before we have any more children we should check our family as it is a disorder past through genes and all my aunties told me the same thing thats such a load of bull you dont need to look at our family history.

needless to say that just spiked my interest even more and i have been tracing my family ever since but thankfully the disorder has not affected any of my other children or my grandchildren

now im just hooked and cant stop my self, not that i would want to
by Sandra Hopkins G2G5 (5.9k points)
+4 votes
There are two factors for me. First, my grandparents were all gone by the time I was born, but my parents memories brought them to life. That fueled my desire to know more about my ancestors. My imagination brings them more into focus with each piece of information: the heartbreak my great grandmother must have felt, both times she had twins, and lost them; the challenges, and freedom, of being among the very first settlers, in 1830s Michigan; the misery of great grandfather's cousin, who died, a POW, in Andersonville.

The other thing is solving puzzles. I can't resist jigsaw puzzles, logic problems, any sort of puzzle. Looking for ancestors, is one puzzle after another: I know they were in Texas, I have the birth certificates,,, Oh, their name is spelled wrong in the census. Mine are the only Carricks in Nevada, so who's this little girl, not living with other Carricks?... Aha! That's her mother's sister, keeping her until she's old enough to go live with her dad. and on, and on, and on.
+5 votes
One morning I was looking on the internet for an aunt's obituary.  I hadn't had contact with my mother's family for years and while I figured my aunt must have passed away, as indeed she has, I decided to look around the web.  I quickly found the information, and one thing leading to another, I started looking up other family members.  Soon I connected to popular genealogy haunts and before I knew it, I was knee-deep in censuses, find-a-grave searches and quaint town histories. With the internet,  I had scores of puzzle pieces easily within reach, what was lacking, unfortunately, was background information about who my family is.  I am truly sorry I never took the time to quiz my parents and grandparents about those who preceded me.  It took a fluke search to bring some of that family history to the surface and now I'm determined to find out more.   So yes, I've gotten hooked! I am having wonderful fun piecing stories together for myself, my sister and my daughter who I fervently hope will enjoy the information too!
by Bonnie Saunders G2G6 Mach 1 (14.0k points)
+6 votes
When I started this adventure I had no idea that I belonged to such a famous family tree. Afterwards I found that many mistaken identities were being confused with all the common names between generations. For example, my grandmother Myrtle Marie Agee has a niece with the exact same birth name. There is 30 years difference in their ages and I thought the record was wrong until I verified the information with my mother. On the other hand, my father's first name is recorded as his surname. So my siblings and myself are recorded with the wrong surname, in a published book on the Agee family. So I am adamant about setting records straight.
by Jeannette Amador G2G Crew (690 points)
+5 votes
Oh, it's a disease, flat out! If you get bit, there is no cure, you die with it! Every time I answer a question, I ask at least two more. I was bitten at a very young age from my fathers stories of his child hood. I didn't even know I was sick till I was about 40 years old and made my first trip to a Family History Library. (I still blame my big brother for that). Some twenty four years later, I'm on daily medication (computer, e-mails,, something!). I can't even go on vacation without relating it to something genealogical, (a relative lived near here, my parents were married in a town near here, etc.) If you are a genealogist, say AMEN!!!
by Tom Allen G2G6 Mach 1 (10.7k points)
+4 votes
One of the reasons I love doing family history research is because it is like solving mysteries. For example, I just solved one tonight. My mother kept news clippings, photos, and genealogy notes in a folder. After she died, I inherited it. Many of the clippings do have notes attached that explain who the person is in relationship to my family. One of these clippings has the headline: Two Butler Men Held in Slaying After Crash and the person who was killed was Jack Fagan. The article goes on to say that following a traffic accident with another vehicle there was a scuffle and Jack was stabbed.

My mother's maiden name was Fagan, so I know this person was most likely a relative, but my mother has been dead since 1994, so I couldn't just ask her a question.

Then tonight as I was working on my Fagan family I came to a great uncle who had a son named Jack. A few clicks brought me to his Find A Grave page with a picture of the young man who was only 21 when he died in 1980. I pulled the clipping out and that matched the age of my Jack Fagan. Then with another click I found his Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Card. At the bottom it says: Died of a stab wound while home on official leave! So it would seem that young Jack Fagan was home on leave from Vietnam and was killed here in Pennsylvania. Very sad and sounds like an early road rage incident. Now I know the rest of the story and I have a place to put the little newspaper clipping!

It is these kinds of things, that happen over and over, that I enjoy about genealogy.
by Nikki Byer G2G6 (8.4k points)
+4 votes
I grew up working for my family in the family businesses.  I was always proud of my family and my ancestors, even very young.  I enjoyed sitting with my parents, grandparents and relatives and listening to stories.  I went into the Marine Corps at 17, having to talk my mother into signing the waiver.  After the Marines I became a Peace Officer in California, again something my mother and wife, both did not like.  The job has it's issues, and one of them came to light in 1982 when I was injured pretty bad.  Laying in a hospital bed at home, my mother gave me a large file box, filled with some of her genealogy collection, she said it would keep me occupied while I recovered.  It did!

Since that day I have been so totally hooked.  I have put all those stories I ever heard into print, I have put names to faces, faces to names, I have found relatives forgotten, I have talked with, written to, visited with, etc. family that I would never have known, I have hooked family up with other family members that did not know each other ... these are just some of those things about genealogy that keeps it in your blood, that makes you feel so good, that keeps you "hooked" on this so called hobby.

I have printed out family trees for so many of my young relatives for their school projects, I find myself telling them stories, just like I use to hear from my older relatives.  I am retired now ... on a forced medical, and my hobby has turned into my full time job.  I do not get paid for it, I do not have the money to spend on it like I did in years past, I have some family that asks me why do I deal with "dead people"?  I start with telling them about my father, who passed away last year, and just go from there  ...

I am so, so hooked.  This is my very short version answer to this being hooked on genealogy question.  Thank you for allowing me to give it to you.
by Virgil Kester G2G6 Mach 1 (11.7k points)
+4 votes
After I started my family tree 17 years ago there was a brick wall on my 4th Great Grandfather.. His Father was a mystery to Our family for over 100 years. Thanks to the Ydna male test which allowed Me to focus on a certain family. It steered me to Montgomery County, Virginia . That gave me new motivation to search those records that were available in that county. That search led me to the tax list of Montgomery County in the years 1787 to 1810 and  there I found my 4th Great Grandfather with His father who was reported to be about 10 years younger than He actually was.  As proven by His census record from Lee County Virginia in 1830 and other records of His father living in Fluvanna County during the late 1770's.  These records proved His actual age and verified the  Lee County Record. For me it has always  been wanting to know what the full story is.  After 17 years of looking and digging I have been determined to keep going.   Brick walls are frustrating but they do keep me motivated to learn more.  And Today I do know more of Our Story.
by Greg Napier G2G Crew (820 points)
+4 votes
I have fun finding new cousins (some of whom become good friends with) and helping them find their ancestry... and finding out very interesting "black sheep" in the family then trying to sort out say the murders, etc. LOL  I always feel like a Detective sorting through History trying to find all the clues.
by Charlotte Shockey G2G6 Pilot (944k points)
+4 votes
I don't know but I fear I am going to wake up some morning like Forest Gump and ask why am I doing this and then just stop.
by Marty Acks G2G6 Pilot (113k points)
+4 votes
I love finding new cousins who may end up becoming friends! That's what keeps me going.

Also, the finding of interesting ancestors.
by Charlotte Shockey G2G6 Pilot (944k points)

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