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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Family Leaves made Easy

From L to R: Great Grandmother Vianna Sumpter Brumfield, unknown woman, Grandmother Mary Brumfield

You don’t have to be a professional genealogist to make your own family tree.  From my own family research, I have encountered a group of people who are considered professional genealogists, meaning that they have obtained a Bachelors degree in Genealogical Research.  I am not one of these people, but that doesn’t take away from my fascination with creating my own family legacy.

I am your average person, who happens to enjoy researching my roots.  I became interested in creating a family tree as a young child.  As a class, we were asked to make a tree and I was only able to get up to my great great grandparents and only on my maternal side.  I have always wanted to explore further and thus my journey continues.  Here are some things that I have found useful.

Use of Genealogical Software

  • http://www.familytreemaker.com/    This is the one that I use.  I love how it does much of the work for you.  One draw back is that you have to learn how to cite your research, but this can be made easy with a simple read of the manual that comes with the software.  In order to keep the software going, you must pay a low monthly fee to have access to the large database, which includes census records, pictures, and other useful document.  The fee is well worth it as you won’t have to go further than your computer screen to find out about your family.
  • http://www.myheritage.com/  This is a free software that puts your tree on the internet.  It does have a cost if you want to access other researcher’s trees, but that is one of the drawbacks.  You can’t trust that other people have done the proper research.  I only trust what I find in documents and not what others have to say about their ancestors.  I have come across many people on this site who have incorrect documentation that I could easily back up with my census data.
  • http://genealogy-software-review.toptenreviews.com/ppc-index.html?cmpid=74152  This website has various reviews and pricing on genealogy software.  There is one for every budget.

Family:  As the Best Source

You have gone the software route and you are staring at a blank screen waiting to plug-in what you already know.  How will you know the dates and full legal names of all these people? The software can’t go any further unless you already have some working knowledge of your family.

You will need to get information from the elder members of your relatives.  Your grandparents or great aunts and uncles can be of value in telling you the names and birth dates of your family.  They may even have old pictures, letters or stories that will be of value to your research.

Other Internet Sources

  • Historical Society Websites— When I find out where my ancestor has spent most of their life, I immediately look for a historical society website for that town or city.  I have found pictures of my ancestors on these sites that I couldn’t get with my ancestory.com software.
  • Simple Google Search Of course you can use any search engine, but sometimes you will find information on your ancestors just by simply doing a quick internet search.  Be sure to put the name in quotes ( “First Last”) that way the internet will only find people with that exact name.  I have found books written about my ancestors in doing this.

The most valuable tip in doing your family research is to realize that it will never end.  Pace yourself you can’t get it totally complete and you will never get it done.  It is something to enjoy and to pass down.  Have fun doing it and don’t forget to write down the stories of your family.  You will be surprised by all that you find out.

The Brother I Never Knew

I never knew that I had a brother, but he had known about me for at least half his life.  We were both born in Dayton, Ohio to the same sperm donor and when I say”sperm donor” I don’t mean our mothers went to a clinic to purchase the same sperm.  I am talking about the man who cheated on my mother repeatedly and spilled his seed every which way.

I was born in 1977 and my brother was born in 1979.  My biological father was only in the picture for brief periods, as my mother often kicked him out of the house.  It was during the summer of 79′ that he returned to introduce her to a visibly pregnant woman.  He said she was his girlfriend.  My mother was unfazed by her growing tummy and had never considered that the baby she was carrying belonged to my father.

She finally up and left Dayton in 1981 to pursue a new life in El Paso, Texas.  I was only four years old and I never shed a tear when we left because this man, that we will just call “Mike“, was never really a dad to me.  I didn’t feel a connection whatsoever.  During my childhood, I felt that something was missing and I knew that somewhere out there I had a sibling.  I felt strongly that it was a brother.

Years have passed and I have grown a bit older.  It was June 2011 and I decided to check my email.  One particular email caught my eye.  “Is your father’s name “Mike”?  If so we are related.”  It was from a man named Shane.  At first I thought it was some kind of joke or a scam artist.  I was not sure what to think, but my heart immediately dropped because I felt that Shane was going to say he was my brother.  I replied to the email and was taken aback when he told me that we had the same father.

Still curious and suspicious at the same time.  I began to ask him of what he knows about his father.  He filled in details that he couldn’t have found simply by making an internet search.  He had private knowledge of our family that I knew that I never wrote anywhere.  I was stunned to say the least.

When he told me that he lived in El Paso, Texas and only lived on the other side of town from me, I nearly collapsed.  I really wanted to meet him, but I was so nervous.  How could we both end up in the same city, miles from our hometown in Ohio?  It could only be an act of God or fate.  I was meant to meet him and his family.  This doesn’t happen everyday, so I spoke with my mom about it.  She too couldn’t believe it and told me to have him send a picture via email.  His face shape and eyes resembled so much of mine and “Mike’s” that I knew that it was true.

It has been a few months since I met him and I must say that it is strange that I am getting to know my little brother.  We have spent a lot of time together.  We went on a trip to White Sands and are planning to be together for Christmas.  He feels like a stranger, but it also feels like someone familiar to me.  Someone that has always been with me, but just couldn’t be with me.  I have contacted our biological father, but he continues to deny his son.  It is not like this 32-year-old man wants child support or anything else.  He just wanted to know the other side of his family and happily I get the honor of doing that for him.

When I asked him how he found me, he told me his mother told him his father’s name and that he had a sister named Sunshine.  If my name wasn’t so unique he probably would never find me.  He made a search for our father on the internet and found his MySpace page.  He saw that on “Mike’s” friend list that he had a friend named Sunshine Mendez.  When he searched for me online he found some of my writings along with my email address.

I hope this blog inspires those who have siblings that they need to find.  I hope that you will end up with the happy ending that I have had.