Genealogical research has been all the rage for God only knows how long. Recent modern genetic tests now allow for us to learn about our ancestry simply by doing DNA testing.
The whole thing sounded great at first. For me, not knowing who my great grandparents are has been the hardest part about filling out my family tree. We are a family with roots primarily in the South and Midwest always in rural areas where record keeping was done by churches or every ten years via census. I’ve noticed that tracing my black ancestors seems near impossible.
We are all aware of our slave past and even though many of my ancestors were ‘free’ during the time of slavery those who weren’t cannot even be found. Often times listed simply as ‘male’ or ‘female’ without a date of birth or first or last name distinguishing between slaves is basically impossible.
Now obviously I am a woman with primarily African ancestry but a chunk of my ancestry is from Europe due to partly obvious and otherwise unknown reasons. I can trace those ancestors to Germany, England, Scotland and Ireland through the 1500s without a problem. Many of them being part of founding families or prominent families in early America who were extremely well documented. My problem became if finding 20% of my family history is worth the monthly subscription if 70% was virtually gone without a trace.
I’m not saying that I do not appreciate Ancestry. In fact, I have learned many interesting things about my family. Going back centuries my family has been involved in the military and government working as soldiers, law enforcement, lawyers, attorneys and so on. I have also found many musicians, writers and people involved with the church. I found this to be intriguing since these are all occupations that we still hold today.
Are you working on a family tree? Is your family from rural America? If so where do you research and which resources do you find the most helpful?