Black and White and Family All Over

I went to visit my dad last night with my laptop and my scanner. Knowing that sometimes information gets lost, I wanted to go through my grandmother’s old photos and get them scanned. It’s part of a long range project where I want to have all pictures scanned and saved so that if something happens (god forbid) we still have the images somewhere.

Betty (Lovejoy) Hyde
(My grandmother)

Since my mom passed away, my dad has had a bit of a willy nilly way of organizing things. It all makes sense to him but not to the casual observer. Since I no longer live with him, I didn’t want to go snooping so I just picked up the Dryden binder that has been floating around my whole life and got to reading some of the stories in there. The book is fascinating in so many ways and I don’t think I realized how much before. One of my relatives, a 3rd or 4th cousin, decided to start looking into the Dryden side of my family back in the 60s and made several trips to Scotland to do the research first hand. They didn’t have computers doing what they can do now and much of the information could only be gleaned by walking through cemeteries, checking the old parish records and going through the countries archives. It took him years to get what little information he’s gotten where for me I’ve only been really digging around for less than a year. It really ignited my desire yet again to go on a family history fact finding mission to Scotland and England… but that’s for another day.

As I’m reading the binder, my dad starts looking for the elusive Grandma pictures. When he was digging he found a box of summer clothing of my mom’s that had been tucked away and one small pocket photo album that belonged to my grandmother and had some great images (such as the one I’ve just attached.) Amped up by the find, I decided to start scanning the images that were in good enough condition to make out faces, and generally I could name nearly everyone in the photos.

I was glad to see some of these items but what was the most shocking came in what he pulled out next.

It was a simple red and blue shoe box that at one point held size 8 white/navy/black Mulder 2’s. It should’ve stood out as something strange as no one in our family has a size 8 foot and it’s amazing that my father pulled it out without a clue as to what it was. He came into the kitchen with a gleam in his eye and said “I don’t know what this is but I think it might be able to help you.”

Opening the box it was like ancestry gold. There were page after page of information about my family tree from as recent as 10 years ago. I always thought the living tree was the most daunting because there are so many of them. My dad was one of 9 kids, and although I can begin to grasp all of them, thinking about his dad’s siblings and all their kids and kids and kids is so overwhelming my head starts spinning and I feel ready to pass out. I’ve been avoiding dealing with living relatives since using ancestry unless I know them personally.

Charles Edmunds Hill
(My Great Grandfather)

Opening the box and finding several file folders inside, each with a little more of the pie was astounding to me. I actually had to sit back in my chair and ponder over what all this means. I wanted to get cracking immediately but knew that without internet access, it could be a waste of time. Instead I reviewed each piece for it’s value. I scanned some of the images into the computer and sorted out what I needed to still review and set aside what I didn’t need.

In the process of going through everything, my cousin Bobby showed up at the house. He was amazed at what I was finding too and so I started to show him some of the things I’ve already found on my phone. It seemed to light a fire under him as well.

It seems that no matter who you are, you may have questions about where your family came from and who they were. Every time I show someone in the family a little piece of the pie I’ve happily seen their eyes light up and it always leads to more questions. I’ve put in hours upon hours pouring over documents on www.ancestry.ca. I kept the tree public so that anyone can search through it and see where it goes. I didn’t want to hide this from the world because I wanted people to know what I’ve found so that they too can have a piece of the pie. This project is so much bigger than me and I really love that I’m able to put it together for my siblings, my cousins, my aunts and uncles and that entire generation that is yet to come. I want them to know where they came from in England and Scotland and Ireland. I want them to know where their family settled when they came to Canada and how the ones on the farms had huge families and how the ones in the cities ended up with smaller ones. I want them to know that we were farmers first, but also lochkeepers, chairwomen, wagon wheel makers and how we fought in wars, from the war of 1812 to World War II. The same names keep coming up in both sides of our family, passing down through the generations in the men and the women. I want my family to know that they aren’t just Hill’s, Porter’s, Lovejoy’s and Hyde’s. They are also Young’s, Misener’s, Woolger’s, Cannon’s, Mitchell’s, McNeilly’s, Marcy’s and Rossell’s.

This research into my family history has become an obsession. I find my brain working all the time trying to discover the next link in the chain. I took vacation this week and I’ve spent it at the library looking through old newspapers trying to find obituaries. I’ve wandered through a graveyard in Jerseyville where I found several of my ancestors on my mother’s side. I’ve researched and added people to the tree and with the help of only a few of the pages in the shoe box, I’ve added over 100 people to my tree. I’m not even done going through all the gold I’ve found but I couldn’t help but stop to reflect on all that I’ve found. It’s astounding how large my family is. As of this moment I have 1666 people on the tree. That number by the end of the day should be closer to 1700. I know that I should have made separate trees for my mom’s side and for my dad’s side but I had no idea that the tree was going to take off the way it did. I had no clue how many branches were going to come out of it and to be honest, I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. Maybe when I reach 2000 I can stop. Maybe…. Or Maybe not…. 🙂

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