I was born into a family where my paternal grandmother lived with us, and even though she died when I was 10 years old, her name was forever engrained on my heart and mind. Her husband had died long before I was born, but between my parents, aunts and uncles, and first cousins—who gathered annually for a family reunion beginning the year after Grandma died—these family names were reiterated over and over.
On the other side of the family, my maternal grandmother lived about four hours away, so it was a big deal to go there. But my parents made sure that the opportunities to visit with my Iowa relatives were not forgotten. I never knew my maternal grandfather, and though he had passed in 1919, he definitely was still around in name.
Sometime in my girlhood years, a few of my older first cousins got “bees in their bonnet” to work on our family history, and it struck a nerve with me too. I could not hear enough of what they were finding! The family reunions became treasured events to hear stories and recollections as well as discoveries in their research, and that delight persists to this day. Next, it became a passion for me to go visit all the graves of the generation of my great-grandparents.
I have become aware that not everyone is so privileged with this information laid on their lap and retold over and over. Did you know that a study reported that up to “One-third do not know all four of their grandparents’ names?” With today’s mobile society, where families often end up at opposite ends of the country or across the world, it can (understandably) be hard to get together and hear those family stories. Oftentimes, when people become the oldest generation, the strong desire to know their family’s past strikes, and they begin to collect the information, possibly made more difficult because the elders are no longer there.
The Midwest Genealogy Center is here to help you! Get started by printing out one of our generation charts and see how many of your direct ancestors’ names you can fill in. Take our online Beginning Genealogy Class, and read our tips to begin the process. Call us if you have questions, or come in to our library to see the vast amount of information that MGC has available for your research. As you fill in your chart, hopefully it won’t take long for you to become one of the two-thirds whose grandparents’ names are no mystery. And then you are on to the next generation!
Midwest Genealogy Center