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I'm just getting started in the world of Genealogy and I would like to hear people's stories of how they came to love Genealogy or what their biggest reward so far has been in researching their own generations or just doing Genealogy in general.

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I am going to tell y'all a story that I just have to share....

Some 30something years ago, I got bit by a bug... It's called a Genealogy bug.

While still in High School, I had an teacher who gave out a pedigree chart for a homework assignment.
I filled in as many blanks as I could, which were not very many, but that got me to wondering about those
Folks who's name I didn't know, but were connected to me by much more than just this piece of paper.

So I started asking questions, lots of questions! So began a lifelong quest to know.
To know more about Those that came before.
Not only their names & dates, but who they were, what they did and how they lived.
How current events of the day effected their lives.

The more I learned the more I wanted to learn.

At the very beginning, there was one blank the got me stuck. Yes, I knew the name and eventually was even able
To climb my way over it and go several generations back. But this was my mystery Man.

This one was my brick wall.

HE was it seemed, determined to not let me find him.
I heard lots of stories & I have seen Lots of information that folks had shared, but all of them after much digging
turned out to be yet another false trail.

You see this fella, well he was a bit of a scoundrel and although he was from a family line with much history of faithful
Long marriages and devoted husbands.
He broke the mold.
He married the first time ( we know it was his first, because He was only 17 when this one took place)
On the 19th day of March 1879 in Mount Vernon, Rockcastle County Kentucky.
To Miss Martha Frances Clark age 21.
They were to become the parents 8 sons & 3 daughters 1 child died as an infant.

My fella was not happy with just this one wife & family.
In 1902 at the age of 42 he married a young girl by the name of
Nelissa Stubblefield from a near by community & spent 3 months traveling around with this new wife.
Not ever bothering with a divorce.
His family soon found him along with this young wife staying in Seattle
And she was soon returned home to her father's house.

All this occurs while wife number 1 is carrying their 12th child.

Family stories I have heard, & I now believe to have a least some truth to it, is that He returned home for a bit & then one
Day while walking along with some of his children, he fell into the Arkansas River & drowned. The only thing found were his
Coat & hat somewhere down stream.
This occurred sometime before 1910 when wife #1 claimed to be a widow in the census Records.

However, stories were told of how he had really ran away with a school teacher or a piano player at the church. ( I've heard both versions)

But then.... Around 1921 one son, the next to the youngest went looking for & reportedly found his father,
Living in Northwest Arkansas with another wife & family.

Again more stories.

But proof was hard to find.

I have spent uncounted hours in the last 30something years looking.

I have seen death dates & places, I have heard stories of counterfeiting, of being able to disguise his appearance & voice, and
One story that he could even change his eye color, having returned home once and no one recognized him except his horse.
His having married up to 13 different wives. If this guy did manage to do all the things I have heard he done, he was one amazing man for certain.
Some folks when asked would just shake their heads and not say much, others seemed to thrill in making him sound as if he were
Some super human able to leap small building in a single bound....

But I just wanted to know Him.

And now for the reason for my story today....NEVER EVER give up!

Over the years I have learned to check & double check and then check again.
To not file away as a lost cause any of those brick walls That seem to be so unmovable.
Well some angel out there is Watching over me,
because I have finally found my mystery man and he didn't die all those times folks had him dead & buried
In some book or file.
He lived to be the ripe ole age of 80, the father of 21 children, that I know of & is Buried in a
Little country cemetery in Johnson County Arkansas.
I know he married at least twice more and all without ever a divorce on record anywhere.

I requested and received a photo of his stone.

When it arrived and I at last had enough information to finish filling in
His blanks and enough history to write a book on his life. I sat at my keyboard and just
Stared at his name written in stone & how I wished he were here so that I could ask Him some questions.

Because you see, even though he was the "Black Sheep" that family didn't want
To talk about & true he was a real scoundrel, I can't help but have a soft spot in my heart for this
Man, who really has more to do with the reason I do what I do & the reason I love history, than any other person who ever lived.

He was my Great Grandfather and he will live in my heart & memory for a long time to come.

DeeDee Anglin Shackelford
28 June 2008
Biggest reward so far is finding my dads half sister he never knew he had.

On my maternal side, it would have to be discovering that the cousin who I knew had been researching the family for 50 years was still alive at 91 years old, and invited me to come look at all of her research!
finding my best friends grandfather in February after searching for over 30 years.... that was the best...
My biggest find was a distant cousin in Massachusetts. She actually found me. She had been looking for my paternal grandfather (my dad's grandpa) for several years, not knowing when he traveled over, he changed his last name.
I learned one summer what the original last name was, and posted the name and town on JewishGen asking for anyone to post me back. A week later there was Sue, and she has since sent me (snail mail) maps and charts and all sorts of data for hundreds of relatives.
When I started this about 2 years ago, I never thought I would do more than build a tree of people long gone other than the family I knew. Since then I have gained 6 new cousins..some distant but there are two second and one first cousin in that group.
The biggest one though has to be my first cousin that was adopted when I was 12 and she was 6. Thanks to Ancestrys living people finder, a name and phone number later I had found her after 35 years. We have kept in touch by phone and email, and though we are only a little more than an hour away from each other we have not met yet. She has also spoken to her birth mother( my aunt). Her adoptive parents both had cancer, her mother passing just a couple of months ago. I have given her the space she needs as that was the only family she knew all those years and I know this has been hard for her. Her parents were fine people...her mom knew I had found her and was happy for us...her dad had passed before I found her. I hate I never got to meet them.
My biggest find was also when a distant cousin found me. I had posted a query on a Genweb site about my gggrandfather about 4 years before. He recognized the name and emailed me. That little email lead to several thousand descendants of our original immigrant ancestors, old photos and diary transcriptions. Blind queries do work.
My biggest finds were my great-great-grandparents, because it took so long and so many resources to do. The church were he was baptised had closed, and I was finally able to locate where they had transferred the records to and get a copy. And there were my great-great-grandparents' names in black and white! :-)
Isn't it amazing what one little email, letter, or something will start? It blows my mind to think how many people are just sitting there undiscovered still and all it takes is a little genelogical "elbow grease" to get it started!

Mary Trogg said:
My biggest find was also when a distant cousin found me. I had posted a query on a Genweb site about my gggrandfather about 4 years before. He recognized the name and emailed me. That little email lead to several thousand descendants of our original immigrant ancestors, old photos and diary transcriptions. Blind queries do work.
I've had a number of great finds. I've found cousins, the latest being a friend and fellow church member. How cool is that? She posted on Facebook she was doing some genealogy research, so of course I offered to help. The gggrandmother she was looking for happened to come from the same place many of my family came from. I did some digging and found out we are 5th cousins.
My father was adopted, but we found his family many years ago. At least some of them. I had heard a story that one of his half brothers had shot up a train or something and killed some people. For a long time I couldn't find out anything about that, but one day I looked again (always keep looking, new things show up all the time) and found reprints of articles about what happened. He was drunk and enraged because his wife left him or something and did, in fact, kill some folks. He was the last person to be hanged in GA.
I have found out a lot from other researchers, including pictures of family I've never met. I found out the Sharp nose, as we called it, actually came from the Stephens family, and who knows where from there. I saw a picture of a great grand uncle that looked a lot like my grandfather and had the nose! This same grandfather's father was very elusive. I had found a maybe, but no proof. After some detective work I found him living with his half sister and her family. Then recently I heard from a researcher that I had emailed some time back, and he had his death certificate.
It is great finding the good stuff after searching and searching. A few nuggets here and there, and finally a gold mine :) I've found much more, but won't go into it now. There are just too many nuggets!
My biggest reward was finding a treasure trove of information in the small local library of Louisville, MS. Other family members had left copies on file of their research and their DAR applications. And. Louis Taunton has donated a lot of material to the library. I understand the genealogy research room was rededicated in his memory. Thanks to my family and Mr. Taunton, I had enough information to return home and link in my generations into the patriot records at the SAR and DAR. My brother and I are now both members. This was my first road trip and I was incredibly excited at such a find. And, I was able to visit with living relatives there. What a bonus!!!! I wish everyone such a success. :)
An historian from the University of South Australia contacted my father asking question about my grandfather and a family friend. (The historian has since died).

They left the north of Italy around the same time to work in the cane fields in north Queensland, Australia. My grandfather was paid to leave Italy in the 1920's. He was against Mussolini (anti Fascist) and too outspoken.

Due to clues left by the historian searches were made in the Australian National Archives and many years later we found that the Italian Consulate and Australian ASIO had been watching my grandfather and his associates. In NAA we found evidence of this, including letters that my grandfather had written about his Political beliefs, his family and even about tending to his garden. These letters were seized in raids from Italian friends thought to be a threat to the Commonwealth of Australia. My father and his sisters (now in their 70's and 80's) were able to read these letters for the first time. The letters were written during WW2. There is much more intrigue in this story even murder. My grandfather's friend was murdered by Fascists in an interment camp in South Australia during the war by a Fascist, despite pleas from him that he would die at their hands.



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