Forty years ago, when I first got hooked on genealogy research, I had little patience for that next clue. I couldn’t wait to visit the next library on my list or the next courthouse. Then once I was there, I found myself so excited that I tended to whisk through my searches, thinking I was using my time wisely. Instead, my mind failed to organize those precious moments, and I ended up with bits and pieces of information. This experience was a good thing. Even though my research abilities struggled, my urgency to know more about my ancestors grew stronger. I used that power to enable me further on my journey.
All of my research trips were well worth the time and effort. We all learn as we go, and those early years were my time to learn three vital principles, finding the records, organizing my notes, and remembering that patience equals joy. The pages of copied documents containing birth certificates, death certificates, census records, land deeds, and marriage licenses added new branches to my family tree. But for me, it wasn’t enough. So, I began searching even deeper: which took me on many different paths. Estate sales, local newspaper archives, and hidden family cemeteries in the middle of nowhere are just a few trails along the way. Basements filled with spiders, old cellars, and archaeology digs were some of the dirtiest paths. I spent a lot of time at various genealogy swap meets, historical society meetings, and viewing church records. These organizations not only added new data to my tree but also introduced me to many of my best friends.
After those first years, I realized that forming a family tree was a lifetime adventure and like with any worthwhile endeavor: patience was the key to success. As the years flew by, my awareness of anything relating to genealogy and history would quickly stand out to me before anything else. It didn’t matter what the task was at hand; my ancestors were always on my mind: and still are. I can recite birth/death dates, cousin relations and trace my lineage to the 14th century. But what I’m really excited about is that I can share their lives: their opinions, how they lived, and what they did at a particular moment. In other words, I can introduce you to my ancestor’s life.
We all have a yearning to know and discover. With patience, organizing skills, and knowledge of the records, you can find the treasures waiting for you. Will it be tomorrow? Or next week? Or next year? No one can answer that but you. In the meantime, enjoy the journey, every second of it. Remember the struggles and learn from them. Keep searching for the right direction. Our ancestors lived extraordinary lives, and it will take the same measures to discover them again. Don’t think for a second; that you’re not gaining ground or making progress because each step you take brings you closer to the truth and the answers you seek.