This is the second part in a series of posts about my beginnings as a genealogist. You can read the first part here
After the initial thrill of finding some of my family tree posted online by a cousin of mine, I wanted to learn a little more. The tree I had found included ancestors on my maternal grandmother’s side all the way back to the 1400’s. (To this day, I still haven’t had the time to find sources for all of these ancestors, but the work continues.) There were a few Mayflower Passengers including Priscilla Mullins and John Alden. There were some great stories about life on the frontier. I was wondering how to continue my search from that point.
I have an aunt that is a genealogist. Unfortunately, there were some family tensions on my mother’s side. Talking with her would be an intimidating proposition. When my grandfather died, my aunt ended up with most of the family pictures and records from my mother’s side. There was some tension between my mother’s siblings for quite some time. His death had a splintering effect on them.
I had never had much interaction with my aunts and uncles on my mom’s side. We had celebrated holidays and birthdays together for awhile, but those faded out years ago. I was left with a few memories, a few pictures and numerous questions about my mom’s family.
My father’s side was different. They were close. They were happy. They were a small family, but with inspiring stories. My father was born in Hungary, in a German village, outside of Budapest, just before World War II. When the war ended, the Soviets came in and sent all the Germans to Bavaria in 1946, though their ancestors had lived in the same Hungarian village since the early 1700’s. They had 8 hours to prepare, and they could only bring with them what they could carry on their backs. My grandmother somehow brought a sewing machine. Times were tough. They lived in a small apartment with several other families for 6 years in Germany. In 1952, they came to America. My father tells me he was looking out the window of the train, hoping to see cowboys and Indians.
My father has an amazing mix of inspiring and heartbreaking stories about his early life and his parents. His only brother died a bachelor in 1996. Being the only surviving member of his family, my father inherited all of the family records and pictures. Some of these pictures are very old, many almost a century old. Unfortunately, there are no records of any of his family beyond his grandparents. Any records I find would be in Hungarian.
As you can see, the two sides of my family tree are quite different. My mother’s side has a good portion of the names and dates worked out for hundreds of years already, but there are very few photos. My Father’s side has many photos and documents of my grandparents, but no names or significant dates before my great grandparents.
Though I don’t speak Hungarian, I have been able to find out where to look for records in my father’s family: I’ll be making many trips to the local Family History Center to browse through microfilm. Luckily, Hungarian records are some of the best-kept in the world; they are just not indexed very much at this point.
Research on my mother’s side will be much easier, as much of her line has been in the US for many generations. There is a good amount of information on Ancestry.com and other sites in English with indexed records.
This is the foundation upon which all of my genealogical research will rest. It is a good start. It is certainly better than many people start out with in their searches. I hope you will follow along with me as I search for my family history.
Other blog posts in this series:
How I Started Genealogy