Today we held the drawing for the ancestry.com prize package winner! Congratulations to Jan Shaffer of Dallas, Texas! Courtesy of ancestry.com, Jan will receive a 6-month U.S. membership and the 2012 version of Family Tree Maker. Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter.
In her submission, Jan shared as follows:
One of my favorite pastimes is researching my family tree. Being a history buff I have enjoyed finding exactly where my forefathers fit within history. I first began when I had my first child and one had to write letters and spend hours in libraries looking at microfilm for information. The forward movement was very slow and I made very little progress. When my father died I connected with one of his (mine too I guess) cousins who was the keeper of the Smith family history. She shared much of her written records with me. Of course, we didn’t have a copy machine so there was a lot of hand scribbled notes during long distance phone calls from Dallas to Tucson. She has since died and her research I assume is with her children. Next I purchased a little software package called Family Tree Maker that helped organize the information on my tree. At this point I was on my way to something that could be passed down to my descendants. This was when I got hooked; but, the big breakthrough was when Ancestry.com was launched. I had data at my fingertips that I never knew existed.
My big brick wall was finding the parents of my maternal grandfather. My grandfather Bedwell died when my mother was one year old. As my grandmother had passed away my mother couldn’t even tell me her grandparent’s first names. I found a hand full of pictures when my mother died but did not know who they were or to which side of the family they belonged. I connected with other researchers through Ancestry.com and by comparing pictures the other researchers owned, found I had a picture incorrectly identified resulting in having a young picture of my great-grandmother and a more mature picture shared by another researcher. Another researcher was able to provide the father, to who we now know is Belle, and she came alive for us. Belle has been the fuel for my continued research and now I have over 2,000 people listed in my tree.
I have also learned from my fellow researchers how important documentation of your facts is for your research. The experienced researchers are happy to guide one through the brambles of information and at the same time teach good habits of research. As a result when someone contacts me for information I pass along the kindness and experience others have shown me. I consider some of my Ancestry connections personal friends.
The latest Ancestry.com option I have taken advantage of is the DNA testing. I never knew where my ancestors immigrated from and having grown up as a Smith I could have come from anywhere. Now I can say I am mostly from Great Britain with a little Eastern and Southern European thrown in and as a result I am planning a trip to Great Britain this fall.