Saturday, January 02, 2010

New Year -- New Direction!

This week brought some new and really great, exciting things to my life. I've been meaning to blog about this bit of news since Monday but -well, you know how it is -busy with this, that and so many other things and I just didn't get around to it.

But it sure wasn't because I was upset or any bad things interfering with my doing this post. It was mainly because I wanted to think over the chain of events that went on before this week and since Monday and put it all together then here.

So now, that's just what I'm gonna try to do -to explain to you just how excited, totally blown away, I was when I got a certain, very special e-mail on Monday and how that excitement has continued for me all this week.

Those of you who know me -or who have followed my blog for any length of time now, may remember that one of my big interests, aside from the steady stream of embroidery stuff I love to do, has to do with Family Tree Research.

I've been interested in this subject for many years now but didn't really get moving actively on it until 1999, when I got my first computer.

Back then, I bought a copy of the Family Tree Maker software and went to work, recording information about my Mom's father's family using the documentation a cousin of my Mom's had done up and given copies of it to a member of each branch of the Eld family. Cousin Wendel had done a pretty darned good job compiling information back in the late 60s and early 70s and I'd managed to keep somewhat abreast of most of the members of that clan so I just added in the new stuff I had and voila, my Tree was done.

Well, it's not quite that simple because a Family Tree is NEVER done! It's a living, breathing entity that, as one's family expands and contracts, so does that tree.

Back in my beginning days with the computer and trying to do research online, I found numerous geneology sites and left queries galore all over the place pertaining to Eld family members as well as starting to put out inquiries too on the other three sides to my family -the Johnson group for my maternal grandmother and then, the Hill and Nelson sides for my Dad's family.

But my research tended to stop back in the late 1800s because all my ancestors were immigrants -Grandpa Eld from Sweden, Grandma Johnson Eld's family had also come from Sweden although she was born in this country and on my Dad's side, both my grandparents there had come over from Scotland so with their generations, my research sort of came to a bit of a screeching halt.

How to find this kind of data needed when I have no means to go to either Scotland or Sweden to try to look this stuff up? Lucky for me, with respect to the Eld family, a very good friend of mine up in Michigan, sent me the e-mail address for a lady in the region of Sweden where my ancestors had lived who does family tree research. I wrote to her and a short time later, she e-mailed me with copies of church records for my Grandpa's family. It took me over two years of working with those records to get it straight as to which person was the direct ancestor in each generation going back in time, but eventually I had it figured out, entered it into my family tree program and presto-magic, I had a lineage that I traced back to the early 1600s! I was elated, that's for sure.

Now, back when I first started out working on this project, as I mentioned above, I had posted queries all over the 'net, looking for information on folks from way back in this country, who are relatives. And I got no responses.

Then, I often forgot which sites I had posted queries to and also, I changed e-mail providers a couple of times too which made it difficult then to find all the sites where I had posted queries and get my e-mail changed on them so that if someone happened to read my posts, they could have e-mailed me with questions but now couldn't do that because so many of those queries had a dead e-mail address in them.

Eventually, I did get a little of that issue corrected, but not all. Still, a little is better than none, isn't it?

Well all of this brings me up to what happened to me this past Monday that really has put a completely new, different spin on my family tree and my research.

You see, on Monday I got an e-mail from a lady who had, back in 2000 and 2001, found my queries and tried to e-mail me but by that time, I was on my 3rd e-mail address and rarely checked in to most of those geneology sites any more either, so I didn't see her response to any of my queries back then.

This lady introduced herself to me in the e-mail, saying she was pretty sure that we had a family connection and that her great-grandmother was a sister to my great-grandmother and yes, as soon as I read the names she listed in her e-mail, the locations and dates, I knew I had finally found someone who could give me data on my Great-great Aunt Anna (Carlson/Till) Johnson, who had lived in Olean, NY from the 1880s until her death in the 20th century. What's more, this new-found cousin also had some information -including photos -of not just her great-grandmother but also, of her great-grandmother's twin sister, who had also lived in Olean, NY about the same time!

I suppose that only people who are into family tree research can get as excited as I did upon receiving this e-mail but think about the most exciting Christmas presents you've ever received, plus birthday gifts that maybe sent you over the edge with happiness, marriage, births of children and in my case, also grandchildren, etc., and roll all those exciting things into one and you might be able to comprehend then the level of my euphoria that day and since then.

You see, I wrote back to this lady and since then, we've begun a daily communique back and forth -sharing family stories, a few more photos here and there and just learning more and more information that way too to put in our family trees!

You see, the only information I had ever been able to get on my great-grandmother's family were the names of her three sisters and though I did get some information from family members of one sister (Aunt Selma/Sara) it was these other two where I was stymied. I could find census information up through 1930 on Aunt Stina(Kristina) but could only find a little census data on Aunt Anna up through 1900 -at which time my Grandpa was living with her, listed on that census from as a "boarder" in her home. I saw that she had a son, got his name as well as her husband's name, so I knew that much about her, but finding anything else on her or her husband and son, well that seemed to be my brickwall, for sure.

Until now, that is!

Iwish I could pull the photos off that this new cousin has posted on her tree of her great-grandmother and her twin sister and could include them here in this post as they both were very beautiful women. The photo my cousin has of Aunt Stina's two daughters is also very lovely as well. Maybe one of these days I'll have those photos in my possession on my computer and will be sure to put them up here in my blog for all to see then.

The nice thing is that this comes at a time when I was feeling rather bogged down about family tree stuff. Can't get my cousins to provide me with updates on their families so I'm not able to keep the tree up-to-date very well now and I knew too that my next step with this branch of my family was going to require that I get a subscription to the Swedish family tree research software called Genline in order to keep doing research on my lineage in Sweden. And now, sometime this spring, that's exactly what I'm going to do too -make at least a three-month purchase to Genline so I can start filling in more of the blanks on my Great-Grandmother's side of that tree!

So there you are! Now you know how much a little bit of information about my ancestors can truly make my socks go up and down and send me off in a delirious tizzy of happiness and excitement!

And that's the new direction my life is now taking me! All to find out the names of a bunch of damned dead people is how my Dad's baby sister used to think about my interest in this stuff and she couldn't fathom why I felt it was so important much less truly interesting.

But I do and I love it! Betcha you might too if you ever let yourself get involved and really engrossed in tracking down your family tree too.

So, Happy New Year for me and my cousin -Kyle Ingrid -as we continue to learn more about each other, about our closer relatives and those from way back in time too!


Sandee said...

What a great gift indeed. I'm sure you will fill in the blanks about your great grandmothers side of the family. How exciting for you.

Have a terrific day. :)

Alex the Girl said...

My aunt, who has passed on, started working on our family tree. She stopped in the 1800's, although for different reasons than yours! I don't think she wanted to open that proverbial woodshed. Geneology (spelling) is fascinating, esp. when you have photos to go along with the name. Congratulations on your discovery. It is a great gift indeed!

Linda said...

That's so totally cool! I've always wished I could find a cousin who could fill me in some on my Dad's side of the family but alas, no such luck!

I wish I had the time and the patience to do some genealogy research but I guess I'm saving that for when I'm retired - if ever!!

Palm Springs Savant said...

how excellent! isn't the internet wonderful? great news Jeni

Happy New Year, btw.

Mary said...


I am very interested in family history and can understand your excitement. I'm glad this lady was finally able to track you down. Good luck on your research in 2010


Marguerite said...

How wonderful! I LOVE ancestry and have tracked down every ancestor all the way back to the 1500's, in France, on both sides, except for one from Wales, who remains elusive. It is so exciting to put the pieces of the puzzle together and to find out who we really are. Cheers and Happy New Year, cher!

Paula said...

Oh Jeni! This is so cool! I know how much you love the family history so what a wonderful gift for you!
I've done some family tree research, not a lot, but am very interested in it, always have been. I always think that someday, when I have more time, I'll really get after it, but if I wait to long some of those key people with the knowledge will be gone.

... Paige said...

that is great news. I am so happy for you and your whole family. I'm sure you are noting funny little family stories and photos for those that come latter. if not you need to start

Hilary said...

That is indeed wonderful and exciting. I'm very happy for you, Jeni. :)

Jocelyn said...

The ribbon on top of this gift is the fact that the email came so unexpectedly; there's something really delicious about an unforeseen delight, isn't there? I'm so excited for you, Jeni; now you have the information need to continue putting all the pieces in place!

Jocelyn said...

I'm back to talk lights/lamps. I did find an awesome triple LED clip-on lamp called the Mighty Bright, and it works great for reading...but I don't know that a clip-on could work for handiwork, since you probably can't clip a light onto an embroidery hoop, eh?

However, I know my mom has a really nice, bright (maybe magnifying?) lamp that is made just for quilters. I've seen such things in Michael's (the craft store; do you have that where you live?). Anyhow, I'm sure you can find what you need in a craft store...maybe? I hate to think of you stitching and not being able to see well.

Suldog said...

That's very cool, Jeni. What a pleasure to gain such information, especially after wanting it for so long.

fermicat said...

Fantastic breakthrough in your genealogy research. Very exciting!

Deb said...

Happy Happy New Year to you ~ and what a wonderful gift you received. Working on my family tree is something I plan to do someday - it is on one of my lists.Glad you connected with your relative and now you will be very busy during these long winter months ! And I also want to thank you for your kind words over at my place - much appreciated. Take care.

Debbie said...

How exciting! I had never looked into our ancestry until two years ago. It is very addictive!

terri said...

I agree that is a very exciting discovery! Congratulations! I can see that your research is going to be the subject of many new posts soon!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, so happy for you!!! What a wonderful boost of encouragement in your quest!!!! Hurrah!!! And it'll be such fun to read all about it here!!! ~Janine XO