Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Genealogy Phase

by Pa Rock
Family Researcher

Most families have one person who dedicates an inordinate amount of time to collecting and preserving the family history.  Often it is some retired cousin who has the time and money to take their motor home through the hills and hollers of Kentucky and rural Virginia to visit courthouses and cemeteries in search of small nuggets of information that will result in the positive identification of some errant g-g-g-grandparent, or that grandparent's sibling or cousin.  That hobby, or affliction, is referred to by research types as "genealogy."

I took up genealogy in the early 1980's and became the go-to guy for anyone with questions regarding the ancestors of my children.  I diligently wrote to state capitals, county seats, and even one Canton office in Switzerland collecting documents (primarily birth, marriage, and death certificates - all for a fee), and eventually managed to flesh out a family tree for my kids that reflected around 250 grandparents - many of them with primary documentation.  Through primary research and latching onto the work of others, I was able to follow one of my mother's ancestry lines back fifteen generations into the 1500's.

Coupled with my personal research, I also had a newspaper column in the Ozarks that at one time ran in fifteen small town newspapers.  I published Rootbound in the Hills for 242 weeks.  It dealt primarily with queries from readers about their own misplaced Ozarks' ancestors.  (The complete collection of those columns may be found at )  I'm ashamed to say that I have yet to get them indexed, but if anyone reading this would like to take on that challenge, help yourself!

So, for a few years, I was heavily into genealogy - but that fire eventually faded and died as I went through a couple of major life changes.  Today boxes of my primary records are sitting in a storage building at Rock's Roost in Missouri - a storage building that the squirrels and rats have eaten their way into - and it may be a couple of more years before I am in any  position to effect a rescue of whatever is left of those documents.  I do have all of the factual data entered into a program on my computer.

I mention all of the above, because I can feel the interest in genealogy starting up again.  I am slowly slipping back into my genealogy "phase."  (Is that because I am getting close to retirement age or perhaps sensing my own imminent exit from this realm of existence?)  The past few evenings I have even started to "google" the names of some of the individuals whose past had me stumped years ago - and I am finding lots of good information that other researchers have posted.  What would have required a trip to the Mormon Library in Salt Lake City thirty years ago, can now be accomplished from sunny Okinawa with the aid of the Internet!

All of those grandparents who walked from the east coast to the Ozarks in three or four generations are now flying around the globe in nanoseconds - and Pa Rock is out to find them!

1 comment:

nilraps said...


I have an item might rekindle some genealogy thoughts. I would like to send it snail mail if you could provide your mailing address.


David Sparlin, Curator
McDonald County Historical Museum