Hello, Fellow Travel Freaks. Get out those old photo albums and family records because on this Wild Wednesday we’re exploring our family history through genealogy. With helpful resources like the Genealogy Center, we can follow the migration of our ancestors to America, and uncover clues to our heritage. credits-melody-schubert-KeyWestCemt1

Visiting a cemetery is often a sober occasion when we say goodbye to friends and family. Yet, cemeteries are also a helpful resource when tracking down our family history. Living in the Midwest, our graves are below ground, while in places in the South like Key West, the graves are above ground. On our visit to Florida, we visited the Key West Cemetery that dates back to 1847, and is popular for the humorous quotes etched upon some graves, like, “I told you I was sick!”
As we looked at the graves, I read the names, and wondered who these people were, and where they came from? There are many name’s we hear today and instantly know who someone’s talking about: Football fans hear the name Luck or Manning, and can picture these amazing quarterback’s on the gridiron. Indianapolis 500 fans immediately recognize the name of Andretti. There’s Stallone, who  brought Rocky, and other memorable character’s to life on the silver screen. And, if you mention Santana, you can’t help but hear Carlos and his soulful guitar riffs.
Some names are simply legendary like Lincoln, Houdini, Armstrong, Ford, and Hendrix. When mentioned these names stir up images of iconic figures in American history. There are names that carry a weight of responsibility such as Kennedy. While other’s like Capone or Dillinger are notorious. Does someone’s name make the person, or is it the other way around?

Uncovering The Clues To The Past At The Genealogy Center

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How far does your family history go back? Through genealogy you can find out, although we often have to dig around to find clues to the past. Scientists literally do this around the world in their search for the first inhabitants on earth. In fact, divers on the Hoyo Negro Project in Mexico discovered the skull of a young teenager, which presented a opportunity to the match their skeleton’s DNA with ancient hunter-gatherers. These hunter-gatherers migrated long distances for food and shelter. Many of our ancestors did the same. Another factor that causes mass migrations is the threat of war, which unfortunately continues to happen today. And, these migrations continue to change America, and other countries.
One place where we can start our heritage search, and follow the migration of our ancestors is at the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library Downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana. This is the largest public genealogy library in the country, and a free resource for those interested in following their roots. The library’s staff are very helpful when it comes to guiding you through their extensive collection that includes hard copies, and online resources.
The Genealogy Center is open seven days a week, and contains military records that go back to the 1700’s, as well as passenger lists, and completed family histories. These resources are a great advantage to someone just starting their search, and for professional genealogists. The Genealogy Center let’s you browse through information available only to libraries, and access to the top seven licensed genealogical databases. And, you can use them for free!

Tips To Begin Your Genealogy Search

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To begin your search start with what you already know like your parents names. Birth and death certificates, obituaries and other newspaper clippings, and family Bibles are very helpful. Other items that you may find useful are yearbooks, and old photographs. Remember all those stories your grandparents told you? These stories also give you keys to previous generations, and where to start looking.
To help you get started download the Pedigree Chart, which allows you organize your family history. These charts are used by genealogists to keep track of the names of direct ancestors, and there are many other examples available online. As you fill in the chart it will include dates and places of birth, marriage and death, as well as the maiden names of women. There are sections to insert your siblings and extended family members like Aunts, Uncles, and Cousin.
Now that you have a chart laid out, you’ll be able to start connecting the lines of your family history. If you have strong community ties, and your family has lived in one area for generations your local library will have valuable resources you can access. Ask your librarian about programs available, and access to online databases. Often, the library will have full access to licensed genealogical databases like Ancestry.com and others that charge a fee if you try to visit them at home. They can also help guide you to other databases focusing on Hispanic, African American, Native American, and other ethnic groups, so you never know how far back your history will take you until you look.

Learn More About Your Family Through Genealogy

While the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library Downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana seems like a long trip to make; it’s defiantly worth it to explore the extensive collection of genealogy resources available.
To help plan your trip, explore area attractions, events, and discover more about Fort Wayne, Indiana go to Visit Fort Wayne 
To research your family history online RootsWeb is a helpful resource.
Discover more about the Key West Cemetery hat is  located at 701 Passover Lane in Key West by visiting their website.

Wild Wednesday Facts:

  • Keep a record of where your ancestor lived, military service, and religious affiliations, which will come in handy as a starting point when doing research at a library, courthouse, or online. 
  • Contact family members and let them know your researching your heritage. They may have already started a Pedigree Chart, which you can borrow of copy. Together, you may be able to expand your search and uncover new clues to your history!
  • When visiting a family grave site, snap photos of your ancestor’s graves, which can be used a references when researching your genealogy. It is also helpful to write down the name of the cemetery, and location. 
  • “Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you,” Mark Twain.

What stories will your heritage reveal?

photos via Melody Schubert

With a passion for travel and creativity, Journalist and Photographer, Melody Schubert let’s her imagination guide her as she explores the world. For her, everyday is an opportunity to embrace something new, and explore intriguing and overlooked destinations that express the heart of a region, and share these discoveries with readers of Travel Freak. She is also Editorial Executive for USA Travel Magazine - http://www.usatravelmagazine.com/ where she shares more of travel interests.

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