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Researching Your Family History

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Researching your family history can be really rewarding, but sometimes it can be more than a little frustrating as well. Sometimes I have so much trouble trying to track down members of my family tree, I begin to wonder if they weren’t all members of a witness protection program or something like that.

There was a period of my life when I actually had some spare time, but then as I got involved with researching my family tree to find my roots, I found that my spare time was just spent delving into the past and in reality I no longer had any spare time. In some ways it ought to be called Gene-Allergy” not Genealogy, as it’s so horribly addictive once you get started.

The pursuit of your roots is definitely one of those projects where the more you find out, the more you realise how little you know, and there is no end, only when you reach a dead end, but having done that, you just end up back-tracking and going down the next set of roots as far as you can.

For the most part my ancestors were just poor country agricultural labourers, or “Ag-Labs” as you often see on the census returns. I sometimes think of them as my “ancestral farm” because I have so many country roots.

I think sometimes that generations ago my family used to use a limited number of forenames with a goal of confusing the heck out of people trying to study them some 200 plus years in the future. I have so many James and John for example on my father’s side that it’s often hard to know which is which.

Another problem is where there are several distinct branches of a family living in the same small area, often again with the same names. That gets really confusing, especially when you go back a couple of hundred years and have to resort to searching through Parish records.

I have this problem with my Mother’s side of the family, where we have links (not blood links unfortunately) to the famous Dorset author Thomas Hardy. My wife and I have traced so far back, but we haven’t been able to accurately place the relationship between him and my ancestor. Well, I did say it wasn’t a blood link. This ancestor, who we believe was a cousin of sorts to Thomas Hardy, died and his widow married my great grandfather. A bit convoluted I know, but it’s about the closest I can come to having a famous ancestor.

Do you have any good family history stories to share? If so, please leave us a comment at the end of this post.

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