I have been on the computer most of the day researching ancestors. I started out trying to find my cousin Michael. Sadly, he died in 1995.
From there, I began to construct a family tree for him so that at least there would be records of his mother and father and various aunts and uncles. He would have a place in family history which only seemed right. After forming his tree, I expanded the data to include my mother and father's lineage.
This evening we had dinner with my wife's parents. I carried the laptop and even got them excited over tracing their lineage. Out came the family bibles and within an hour, I had built a lineage for both of them going back to the early 1800's. Their family immigrated in the early 1800's from Germany and Ireland so I may have reached a dead end. But I could tell that they were fascinated by what I did find.
What I plan to do next is to check the online data against my mother's written charts. It is quite a bit like sleuthing. In much of the family tree, there is less information on the women. It appears that records for them were not as important as for the male lines. I am once again reminded of the prejudice and indifference that women must have suffered. Considering the number of children born, it is a wonder that more of my ancestors didn't die in childbirth. Every woman had at least 4 to 5 children, and some even had more. We were a prolific group for a bunch of Episcopalians. "The birth of a nation" as my mother used to say.
At least I know that back in history, I had a huge family of relatives who were owners of plantations and much acreage. And yes, there were quite a few slaves listed which gave me a sad feeling. How could we as a society ever entertained the idea of owning another human being? It makes me sick at heart.
Strange how all of that has winnowed down to just me as the survivor who leaves no children. A veritable dead end of an entire line. But I don't have any regrets. Maybe some distant cousin five times removed will find the information useful. And perhaps we may connect some day.