I know I've written about this before, but it never hurts to update from time to time for new readers. And I hope I do have some new readers. Tell your friends to stop by for a visit!
I have a strange hobby. Most people who claim any affinity for genealogy spend years researching their own families. They track down every last cousin and in-law. They read about where their kinfolks lived and where they went to church. They can tell you their ethnic and cultural background. I imagine some of them could even tell you a lot about their ancestors finances, and what they liked to eat for dinner.
I do things a bit differently. Yes, I know quite a bit about my ancestors and I’ve found a few long-lost cousins. Our family tree goes back to the 1600s and includes some French, English, Irish, Friesian, German, Choctaw, Seminole, and Cherokee roots. But as I began to research my own family, the first thing I noticed was our connections to other families. And some of those other families are far more interesting than my own! That sounds more insulting than it is. My family has its share of the famous and infamous. But I already know most of those stories. It’s the unknown, the new stories, that intrique me.
I also found out years ago that people who are searching for their family ancestors are very, very grateful if you find out something and share it with them. Then if they find something they share it with you. I think genealogists are the original “pay it forward” group. They invented “random acts of kindness”! So I knew I wanted to be a part of the group and help others. I have access to information sources here that a lot of other people don’t have. Even with the internet, people can’t know, unless someone like me posts it, that their great-great-grandfather came here for a visit and suddenly died. That was a little news item in a microfilmed copy of The Caddo Herald that I saw when I was researching someone else’s family history. That’s one of the things I do- I collect interesting stories. If the story includes a name, I try to track down someone on a genealogy or family history website and give them the information to pass on to the rest of the family.
My friends and I often laugh at the “locals” or “personals” that were printed in the early papers. If anyone visited or went shopping or attended a party, it was included in the local news. But those same simple items can be precious to someone searching for news about a family member. “Joe Smith went to Sherman to visit Aunt Cora Jones”, contains a wealth of information for a researcher. The family knows that Joe was here and alive, the year he was here, and that his mother or father had a sister named Cora who married into the Jones family. Both people might be verified on the census. I also collect old obituaries and take photos of headstones, because they add to the information available for family researchers.
Of course my primary directive is collecting stories and researching facts about the history of Caddo. I’m writing a book about Caddo because I find our early history absolutely fascinating. I had no idea how many famous and infamous people lived here. I had no idea how many people struggled to create and maintain this little town, which by the way, was once considered a bustling city. But it all goes back to people. And since they are a part of history, they’re dead. And finding dead people is what I do.