Posted by: downtothesea | November 29, 2008

I’m coming for your family.

I am dangerous when I hit a snag in my own research.

I begin casting around for other family lines I can untangle.  The first time I did this, it was three o’clock in the morning and I was so insomniac it very literally hurt.  With nothing to do, I hopped on to and began typing in my husband’s family surnames with wild abandon.

Two hours later I had a basic tree of five generations and several additional goodies like a digital copy of his great-grandfather’s World War I draft card.  And, on top of it all, the soothing act of research had calmed me down enough so that I could fall asleep.  A winning situation all around.

But in the morning, when I presented my husband with my findings, his reaction was a mixture of delight and mild unease.

“You did all this last night?”

“Uh huh.”

“Don’t you have your own family to look up and stuff?”

“Well, yes, but I’ve kind of hit a brick wall with my research so I thought I’d start in on another family.”

I realized I was beginning to sound slightly neurotic, and so changed the subject.  But it got me thinking:  how ethical was it for me to be digging into another family’s past?  Now granted, my husband is my family, technically, but I could also see his point of view.  It seemed more than a bit weird that someone would spend the wee hours of the morning compiling someone else’s pedigree chart unbidden.  Fair enough.

But the thing is, I still work on his family tree when I can’t sleep.  And because I want to avoid as much marital strife as possible, I’ve stopped mentioning it.  Problem solved, right?

Nope.  Now I feel like a bizarre, nerdy criminal.


Ipswich Massachusetts, July 12, 2008.

Our wedding: Ipswich Massachusetts, July 12, 2008.



  1. Two things, Amy:
    Vin has added stuff to my family tree and I have to his, because really, it is our family tree, so that’s not an unusual thing to do.
    The second thing, I am totally lost in Johnsons. These names are too common. I found our grandmothers and their parents and then hit the wall. Please help! Can we merge our trees? Please tell me your secrets for navigating common names when you don’t really have much to go on.

  2. Hi Elsa,
    Yes, I completely agree that we should trade tree info, but I should warn you that the Johnsons/Johansons are making me beat my head against a wall, too. Making things even harder is that I find our great grandfather Karl uses several names…K. E., even Edward at one point; I’m sure you’ve noticed that as well. Rar! At the moment I’m making myself crazy trying to find the Johnsons on a ship’s manifest–you’d think a family of four wouldn’t be so hard to track down! I wish had an option in which you could type in all the family members’ names at once and search for them as a group. Of course, that’s assuming that they all did come over together…Karl may have come first.

    As for Eric, maybe he’s just not used to being married and considering the two us of “family.” He’s still very aware of what is his and what is mine, in all apsects of life. I figure I have a few years to work on him yet *w*.

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