Saturday, August 15, 2015

What I do is genealogy! Here is how it all began.

In Grandma and Grandpa Price's backyard with Mom, Grandma, and my 4 siblings
Before I really begin telling my story, I want to tell you what the primary surnames are in my research. Price and Knight on my dad's side and Keith and Yocum on my Mom's side. Other names that come into it are Bannister, Burke, Adams, Schaffer, Layman, Ruger, Houghtaling, Hinson, Thompson, Hyslop, Sisson, Peak, McClure, Randolph, Davis, and others. Here is how my story begins:

I guess my interest in Family History goes back to the stories that both of my parents told about their own childhoods. I don’t remember a start or beginning; the stories were always there and I enjoyed them. I think it was a natural way for my parents to express the love of their families just as it is for me to tell about my own childhood. I remember my dad taking us on little excursions to see something: a place from his past. For instance, we would be going to see my grandparents and he would take a detour to go by a house where his family used to live. I don’t remember ever being bored with stories or pictures of family. It seems that I was always interested, but it was a passive interest. I did not actively do anything to stir it up or expand it until I was in my mid-thirties.
The next phase of my genealogical interest hit me when I took a job near where my ancestors had lived. I know that we had driven around the Utica area before and Dad had told me that his family came from this area. When I moved to Sterling Heights, Michigan to take a teaching job, Dad reminded me that our family history was in that area, then, when my parents visited we took a drive up to the Library and the cemetery. In the library, we were directed to a local history written in the 1800s, which named my ancestor, Adam Price and his brother, Jacob, as some of the first settlers there and told how they built a grist mill together. We scrounged around in the library for a while without finding anything else, which was not surprising with our lack of experience in this type of research, but my thirst to know was awakened. In the cemetery we found my great grandparents and their parents, so now I had some names and dates to take off with. This was several years before I owned my first PC. I had a computer in my classroom and knew how to do word processing, but the world of the internet was still an unknown realm. In spite of that I made some progress and I have to stay it probably gave me a better start in the long run, because I was not tempted to blindly accept what someone else put in their tree. I learned to find the evidence myself.
The next thing I did was to read a couple books about genealogical research and they gave me the good idea to talk to older relatives. About this time, I became better acquainted with my great Uncle Edgar Price, who told me stories of his childhood on the farm north of Utica. I also talked to my Grandmother, Alice Yocum Keith, who was my only surviving grandparent at that time. Both of them were able to give me names and dates that I did not have. Then my oldest brother heard of my interest and he gave me a copy of a family tree that he did as a school assignment in Junior High. The great thing about that was, that all my grandparents had been living and contributed information to the tree at that time.
Well now I had a bunch of names, dates, and stories passed on through memories and family tradition and there was more to come, but I knew that I needed to find documentation for all of this. I began visiting court houses, libraries, and historical societies on all my vacations and dragging my sister around to these places as well. Fortunately she is also very interested. Gradually I discovered vital records, land records, probate records, church records, and so on until I had overflowing boxes of stuff about the family. As I worked on organizing all this a few questions emerged and I hit some brick walls. Here are some of those early questions:
1.       Where did Adam and Jacob Price come from, before they settled in Michigan?
2.       What really happened to my great grandfather, George Knight? Was he really murdered by the Chinese cook?
3.       Where did my grandfather have a radio program?
4.       Did the family really own some swamp land where the city of Rochester, NY now stands?
5.       Grandma mentioned a family reunion in Steubenville, Ohio, so why was it there?
6.       How did GGG Grandpa Nathan Keith drown in the Ohio River-what was he up to?

And the questions go on. In my next blog I plan to begin to tell you about what I have and have not discovered so far.
This genealogy thing is an obsession you know. Once you start, there never seems to be a stopping place.

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