When I was in eighth grade, my mother and I watched "Roots." I can't remember if she showed me that old cardboard box before we watched it or if the movie (all 6 video tapes from the library) was what started the conversation. Either way, they are tied together.
In that box were stacks of photos and documents, a binder that was beginning to rust, and a recipe box. However, instead of instructions for making spritz and shortbread, there were index cards with my ancestors. In her college years, my mother had begun tracing her genealogy through the decades.
As her mother (my grandmother Janette) had arrived from Scotland when she was 13 to live with her aunt and uncle, there was little credible information beyond a generation or two. On her father's side, there were tidbits of information from her Swedish grandparents. Before the internet allowed me to find family records from my couch in my pajamas, my mother's easiest options were to take advantage of the records available at the Worcester Public Library (an LDS Family History Center) and being an hour drive from the New England Historic Genealogical Society, as well as being conveniently located near most of the towns the ancestors of her maternal grandmother had settled in during the Great Migration.
Over the years, my mother would recount stories she knew from her parents and grandparents. Some areas were murky, as both of her grandmothers had died long before she was born; some were for preservation as her mother/my grandmother had died when I was very young; some were fond memories from her grandfather and great-aunt who played a much bigger role in her life than their titles might lead on.
Of course, we know that, though Hedenburg men live forever, Hedenburg women die young. When my mother died a few years ago, I found myself with a renewed energy to continue her work. Partly to write down as much as I could remember her telling me in case I met my untimely demise, but mainly because it connected me to her.
She had attended a few genealogy classes since she married Dad and had my sister and me. However, she hadn't created an Ancestry or Family Search account. She hadn't seen the volume of records available so easily online. DNA genealogy was just catching on. She wouldn't have known that, instead of writing international letters and learning new languages, that most Swedish and Scottish archives are available online, indexed, and scanned.
It's been two and half years since she died. Over that time, I've collected so much information from my family and distant cousins discovered online. I have my finger on "Record" whenever I talk to my Grampie Ken and Grammy Jean, knowing they will say some little fact as a throw away that will be the key. I've been to the bowels, the underbelly of the internet, finding forums from ten years ago with some nugget of information. And I carry my satchel of binders and her recipe box to the Worcester Public Library to see what is there, what she missed, what she didn't get to.
As there are so many places to go for research of this kind (and so much bad information out there!), I wanted to create a place to share my findings. Whether you are a distant cousin, a researcher of Puritan history, or grew up on Vimco macaroni, this is the site for you. Drop me a line in the contact form about why you're here, what you want to see, or if I got something wrong. Let's come together in the spirit of genealogy, history, and storytelling.
Thanks for joining me,