National Genealogy Day occurs each year on the second Saturday in March, which this year falls on March 10. In addition to paying tribute to this increasingly popular hobby, it’s also a good opportunity to think about any family history gifts that you’d like to give during the 2018 holiday season. Yes, you heard me right—the holidays! As crazy as it sounds, compiling a thorough family tree for a loved one can take months to accomplish, and starting early can be the difference between listing a few names on paper and creating a personal, in-depth family narrative that will blow the recipient away.
One Midwest Genealogy Center customer learned the importance of starting early this past holiday season when he gathered information for a project he was working on as a Christmas gift. Quentin Ames began his genealogy project after watching an episode of the popular PBS show Finding Your Roots on KCPT with his wife, Whitney. Whitney was overcome with emotion at seeing the end result of the genealogy research and expressed her wish to know more about her own family. Quentin, always on the lookout for surprising and meaningful holiday gifts, seized the opportunity.
As an avid Library customer, Quentin knew he could use resources through MCPL’s Midwest Genealogy Center to complete his project. With occasional assistance from MGC staff, he began researching his wife’s family history through online resources like FamilySearch and Find A Grave. After weeks of research, he made several stunning discoveries.
In researching one limb of Whitney’s family tree, Quentin’s journey took a surprising twist when he inadvertently ended up connecting with a distant cousin of his wife (who happened to work at a county land management office where Quentin was seeking map records) as well as her grandma’s best friend from childhood. As it turned out, the friend of Whitney’s grandma wrote a memoir about her life called Life through a Farm Girl's Looking Glass, which includes details about Whitney’s grandma and the two women’s upbringing. Quentin says they intend to find a copy of the memoir to read.
“There have just been a lot of serendipitous things that have happened,” Quentin said.
Just as incredible is another discovery Quentin made while studying Whitney’s other side of the family. According to Quentin’s research, Whitney not only descends from early politicians and other prominent figures in our nation’s history, but beyond that, her lineage extends back to European nobility. In fact, his research indicates that Whitney is a direct descendant of the Macbeth family—yes, THE Macbeths—Scottish nobility and the subject of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Throughout his research into Whitney’s paternal ancestry line, Quentin continued to find dukes, duchesses, and even a relation to the famous (or infamous!) Boleyn family.
“She’s my queen,” Quentin joked, but he was amazed, to say the least, at his wife’s heritage.
Quentin presented Whitney with his research in a homemade book at Christmas, and she was both surprised and elated with his gift. And despite his astonishing findings, Quentin plans to continue researching—both Whitney’s family history and his own—and someday to hand down their family stories to their four boys.
His advice for genealogy newbies? Start early!
“It’s time consuming, but it’s also kind of addicting too,” said Quentin. “You just can’t believe the places that it takes you.”
So this National Genealogy Day, get a head start on your holiday gifts at the Midwest Genealogy Center! You just never know what (or who!) you might uncover.
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