Writing my own biography does not come natural to someone like me (I like my privacy), but I thought I would go against my nature and share some things with the community I wouldn't normally do.
When I grew up this whole Internet thing was kind of new, in the 90's basically every Swedish family had their own PC. I was in 6th grade when we started having computer class and boy has things advanced since! I was hooked pretty much instantly especially after visiting my mom's cousin Anna-Karina, who had her own computer and a game called King's Quest 7: The Princeless Bride. There was nothing I wanted more than my very own computer. After mentioning to my mother about 586 times how it would be really good to have our own computer at home, for schoolwork of course she finally caved and we went to the electronic store to buy a PC which we set up on the hallway side table. Amazing!
Fast forward 13 years and I find myself in the library looking up my father's grandparents in a census database and get completely obsessed with finding out more. I have always been one of those people who wants to understand how things works and where we come from. No wonder genealogy became something of an obsession! After inheriting some of the more basic information from my aunt who had started some research earlier, I started working on the Härstedt side as I was interested to find out where the name came from; the only "craftsman-name" in the family. My father read the local newspaper "Ystads Allehanda" every day and sent me a copy of an article about a Härstedt reunion with a whole bunch of Härstedt people we never heard of. Apart from one, the social democrat politician Kent Härstedt; one of the people arranging the reunion substantial enough to end up in the newspaper. Curious to see if we were related I sent Kent an email describing the Härstedts I had in my tree, asking if he recognized any of them. I didn't expect a response back, thinking he was a busy politician. To my surprise I did find an answer in my inbox a few weeks later which resulted in a meeting at my dads kitchen table in Ystad. I showed him my research printed out neatly from a genealogy program I was using at the time. Kent had done genealogy the good old fashioned way for the previous 40 years and had all his research on paper. He asked if I could organize his research into digital form and I was more than happy to. He handed over the whole pile of papers while my dad stated "Ja där har du ditt livs arbete!" ("Yep, that's your life's challenge right there!") and turns out he was right about that. Once I started realizing the vastness of a family tree with all these cousins in combination with an insatiable need to organize all the branches and find out where all these cousins lived, worked and loved, there was simply no way back.
I chose to put the research on a website where others could access it. MyHeritage was the first site I went to, but the tree quickly grew to be too big for the free version. After paying for a larger subscription for a while I decided that I was going to need something that was easier on the wallet, especially since the cousins once interested in the cause started to show less and less interest in participating. So I moved the tree to Ancestry. Without limitations on the size of your tree it grew to be over 7000 people strong. I tried to make a spreadsheet of which families was researched and which ones remained to try and find some sort of organizing and focusing my research. That way I could efficiently go branch by branch and complete at least some families. A part from the extra administration of up-keeping the spreadsheets, this worked fine for a while.
After starting my own family time got scarce and I started to wonder what would happen with all the research I painstakingly collected over the last years. Sure cousins with a subscription on Ancestry would once in a while come across it and hopefully find some joy in it. But I wanted to put my research somewhere anyone could find it free of charge and hopefully help add to the research. That's the story of how I ended up here, me and my extra family member, the Tree.
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