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"But I thought genealogy was boring..."

I hope every genealogist gets to experience what I did this week.

It all started two weeks ago when I located Albert Brown's death information in an online death index. I then asked my sister if she would obtain a copy of the certificate from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Her answer was no. I guess I shouldn't have asked her then because we were leaving for our family reunion in Yellowstone National Park the next day. So I had to wait until our reunion was over. I guess it would be good to spend time with my living relatives for a few days.

Bison Last Saturday the reunion ended, and if it weren't for the bison traffic jam heading out of Yellowstone, we would have made better time leaving (it's a 19 hour drive home).

Lucky for me, Salt Lake City was on the way home, so of course we stopped at the Family History Library. I told my wife that I wouldn't be long - I just wanted to get a copy of Albert's death certificate which should only take a few minutes. To my delight, my 11-year-old, Evan, wanted to come with.

He and I located the film and I showed him how to use the microfilm reader. Since I already had the index information, I suspected it would be pretty easy to locate the certificate so I showed him where to look for the correct certificate number.

This is Evan using a microfilm reader for the first time.

2011 06 18_0030

This is Evan as he located the certificate we were seeking:

2011 06 18_0032

I explained to him that he just found a brand new ancestor. His excitement grew as I showed him that he just found Albert's parents. In his burst of emotion he said,

"Dad, I thought genealogy was boring. This is so ... much ... fun!"

Using my digital camera, I let him take the photo of the certificate (way faster and cheaper than making a paper copy). We put the film back and on the way out Evan stopped me and asked,

"Dad, isn't there anyone else we could look for?"

Recognizing that a new genealogist was being born, but still aware that my wife and three other kids were waiting for us, I brought Evan to the computers and did a search in the same database (Washington state Death Index) and located the index entry for one of Albert's children - Wilbur. With the little research I had done of the family previously, I recognized that Wilbur did in fact belong to the family but I had not yet recorded anything of his existence. So we pulled the microfilm and Evan quickly located Wilbur's death certificate. This was truely original research - my 11-year-old just found an ancestor that nobody else had. All along he asked questions like, "how do we know that this is the right person?" He was anxious to know how Albert and Wilbur fit into the family.

Fast forward three days to this morning at 8:00. Before I invited Evan into my office (yes, it's a mess...) I did a little preparation by adding the death certificate information to my source clipboard. Then I invited him to sit in my chair which I think surprised him a bit. With Legacy open we navigated to Albert Brown where I showed my son how they were both related. I opened up Legacy Charting to help him visualize it better. Then, with Legacy open on my left monitor (28" wide-screen - everyone should have one...or two) and the death certificate image open on my right monitor, I taught Evan how to type in the new information. Of course I showed him how to use the source clipboard, for there is no truth without proof.

Next, I opened Wilbur Brown's death certificate and asked Evan, "if you want to add a brand new person, which button do you think you should click on?" He looked around and decided that the "Add" button might do the job. Now, without my instruction, he added Wilbur Brown as a new child to Albert (and Emily), analyzed the death certificate and entered the new details (name, birth, and death).

2011 06 21_0001

I was so proud of him, and equally as proud that Legacy Family Tree made it easy for him to do it all.

Have you had a similar experience? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.


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that is absolutely the coolest story I have heard in ages!!!! Way to go Dad.

very cool! I remember when my toddler grandson realized how his mother and I were related. He was so small, he still called me Bramma as he had trouble saying Gramma and he was hanging onto his mother's legs as I was saying goodbye after a visit. My daughter and I hugged and said our goodbyes and my daughter said "love you mom, drive careful".

Carter's jaw dropped as he started figuring things out and he said to his mom while pointing at me "that's you mama!" He was so excited and you could just see the gears turning in his little head. Was funny and sweet at the same time. Made me smile almost the whole 7 hour drive home.

Great story, Geoff! Good to see the next generation taking an interest. Is this the same kid who declared he wanted to be a genealogist like his dad, 'cos then he'd get to go on trips like the Legacy cruise?

Wendy - yes, earlier Evan said he wanted to be a genealogist when he grows up so he can go on the Legacy cruises and eat ice cream.

My 20 year old son isn't particularly interested in genealogy but he is interested in HO model trains. Even the old railroad documentation. Recently he told me he pulled some records from an old RR building but most were a frozen mess on the floor (winter) and the building was destroyed just after. When I mentioned how genealogists would appreciate the docs especially listing the people he got it. That is because it is genealogy that relates to his hobby of trains. It gives me hope.

Youngest Granddaughter was about 6 when she became enmeshed in "Little House on the Prairie" series and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I told her she had Ingalls ancestors. We took my copy of the Ingalls genealogy and figured out that Laura was my mothers 7th cousin, and that made her my grand-daughter's 7th cousin 4 times removed. She even took the paper outline I did to school to prove it to her friends.

I have done 47 cemetery surveys. I survey old family plots way back off in the woods that no one knows about. Some of these cemeteries are as far as 2 miles off of the road. My daughter Kaitlyn helped me do them all :) She is now 17 and will be getting married in November. I think her cemetery surveying days will be over but it made for some great memories.

What a great story. You are very lucky to have a child who is interested. Neither of my kids are, but I keep hoping one day they will want to get involved. But, I do keep telling them stories of their ancestors.

Wow!!! Please tell my great nephew Evan that I'm really proud of him. It makes me want to get busy.
Aunt Carol (yes I'm Geoff's aunt)

Hey Aunt Carol - I'll tell him. He's now starting on his genealogy merit badge.

Way to go Evan! I'm very proud of you.
Grandma H.

It's sort of like what the doctor told me about my son and vegetables: Keep offering them to him and one day he will take them! Congratulations, Geoff and Evan! I am looking forward to that day myself!!

I love it - it would only be better if you had a video camera to record the moment! Thank you for sharing with all of us! Maybe you'll bring him along to a genealogy conference one of these days?

My 5 year old twin boys love to watch the "slideshow" screen saver I have on my computer. Of course, I have at least a thousand photos of family and ancestors that it scrolls through and the boys watch and ask who each one is and they are even starting to correctly identify "great-great grandma," etc. I've taken them to cemeteries and have them help me search for stones, and they even enjoy cleaning away the built-up leaves and grass and it's a great opportunity to teach them their heritage as well as respect for the past.

Hey, that is my grandson!

Hey Dad - great to see you in the comments!

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