I got interested in genealogy for two reasons. The first is that I love mysteries and genealogy offers up plenty of those. The second is that my mother's family tree was filled with mysteries and I wanted to be the person to solve them! I started working on my mom's tree when I was in my 30s. My mom was still alive then (she died in 2012) and I asked her tons of questions. Early on it became clear that mom knew almost nothing about her family's history, especially on her father's side. "Don't ask, don't tell" seemed to be the philosophy, though homosexuality turned out not to be involved at all.
My grandfather, Al Plowman, had things in his family he felt he needed to hide. He had four siblings; a full sister and brother and two half sisters. My mom never met any of them. Sometime in the late 1940s, Al took mom and her sister, Lois, to the orphanage where he and his brother and sister spent a couple of years after their mother died in 1890. That was a hard time for him and apparently he remembered it vividly because it was one of the few events from childhood he wanted to share with his daughters. The orphanage was in Webster Groves, Missouri, and one of the nineteenth century orphanage buildings, the "Rock House," is still standing.
In the last 30 years of exploring genealogy I have uncovered many of the mysteries of my grandfather's life and I understand why he wanted to keep aspects of his family's past hidden and why he did not dwell on certain things. I don't feel that I am doing him a disservice by exploring some of the less salubrious aspects of our family's history. It's "all good" as my son would say, except that actually quite a lot of it isn't, but what is good is the discovering and the sharing. I have also discovered that my father's family, whose roots were in the Colonial American south, were slaveholders and at least one of them, Joseph Davidson fathered children with one of his slaves. This is very difficult information to process and I continue to struggle with how to understand this sad legacy.
My family's history is a small part of American history and the history of England and Germany and all the other places my ancestors lived. Maybe something I have found will help you with uncovering your family's history. Family history should be discovered, verified, shared and above all, not rewritten to make a prettier picture. For me this is what genealogy is about. It has nothing to do with famous ancestors or taking pride in the accomplishments of a long dead people. It is about knowing the truth, accepting it and hopefully understanding how it has affected you and your family.
WikiTree is a fabulous way to share your genealogical information. It's free so you can make it available to family members who do not want to invest in genealogy software or memberships. People who stumble on the site when googling ancestors will get in touch and may want to share information with you, so take advantage of the "Biography" section of each WikiTree profile page, where you can add information about your ancestors that cannot be conveyed by a date or document alone. When you get a few generations back, there will be other WikiTree members who share some of your lines and you can work collaboratively with these distant family members to expand knowledge.
There is lots to learn about WikiTree and about how to do genealogy research. Most of what I know about genealogy I have learned on my own. Mistakes will happen, but the longer you do genealogy, the more you will improve. Above all, don't give up on your quest for information! Be a dog on that genealogical bone!
My mtDNA haplogroup is "X". This group originated over 30,000 years ago in northeast Europe. My oldest maternal ancestor (confirmed by American records) is Margaret Keppel.
I am interested in vintage photography, particularly coerced images, and the history of how the police used photography to identify individuals. My blog can be found at http://www.capturedandexposed.com.
Here is a link to some excellent info on adding sources to your WikiTree profiles:
Lastly, I am apparently one of the only people on earth to NOT be biologically related to A. J. Jacobs (I am related to his great uncle by marriage)!