Embracing Ancestry.com and then running from it

I’ve always loved history, especially my own family history.  It’s sad that people’s stories get lost over time.  All of my grandparents are gone and I know that there are lots of stories that I never got to hear.  I lost my Dad in 1997.  I heard lots of his stories.  But when I lost him I also lost the connection to his past.  His parents and grandparents and their stories.  Some stories he told me.  But I know there were lots more because his history was important to him to.

A couple of months ago, I was so excited to find most of his paper work for the research he had done on his father’s side of the family.  I’ve searched and searched for them for years.  My Mom gave me some paper work about a year after he died, but it was just a partial record.  It wasn’t the album filled with stories and pictures.  But I believe what I have now is what I’ve been looking for.

I remember my Dad doing research from a fairly early age.  I remember his excitement over the genealogy area at the public library.  He sent off for books, he wrote letters, and talked to people on the telephone.  One summer when I was about six years old we took a trip to Alabama.

He took that side of his family tree all the way back to before the revolutionary war.  He hit a wall, because before the revolutionary war you could come into the country at just about any port.  No documentation.  But now we have Ancestry.com and instant access to a multitude of documentation and things.  Towards the end of 2010, I decided to try this site out and was impressed.  You can start off with very little information and before you know it you are generations back down your line.

I knew I had ancestors that had fought in both the revolutionary and civil war.  I also was told by my Dad that the great-great-grandfather that fought in the civil war did not own slaves.  He once told me “The Mitchells didn’t own slaves, they had children.”   Well after a little research, that grand father may not have had slaves, but just a bit further down the lines they did, at least that’s what I found upon first look.

I can’t even begin to explain to you the sadness that swept over me looking at a census that showed a list of property.  On this list of property was a list of slaves.  It wasn’t a huge list.  Maybe 15 to 20 people.  But people none the less.  So I deleted those connections all the way back to my great grandfather.  I had gotten to that point by simply looking at census data and date of births, place of births, etc.  Drawing upon my memory of names and places.  I wasn’t 100% sure that I had connected the right people to the tree.

There are way too many James Mitchells in the South.  So I think its time to pull out my Dad’s own research, visit a couple of cemeteries, and dive back in.  If it leads me down the same road, so be it.  After being away from the site for nearly a year, I think I’m ready delve back in and see where it takes me.

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