By the time I turned 12 years old, I had lost my grandmothers, grandparents, and my mother. I don’t recall asking many questions when I was younger about our family, only things like what their names were. I remember bits and pieces of my childhood like going to the lake, visiting an aunt and uncle, and falling through the ceiling after my dad told me to only stand on the wooden rafters in the attic. My memories, mainly consist of friends, stupid things I’d done, staying overnight with my maternal grandmother and losses.
When I became an older teenager, around 18 / 19, I started to wonder about my family. I had never met my paternal grandparents. It’s natural for most to wonder who they come from or who their family actually consists of. I had a few pictures of my immediate family like my mom and sister as well as some of my friends. Other than that, there wasn’t much to go on or anything to really spark a memory.
It was late one evening while on the WebTV (it wasn’t a computer, but it was a cable box used to get on the internet and such through your tv), I went to the search box and typed in my last name, Woodcock. I immediately saw sites about a bird that nests on the ground. Though I love animals, it was not what I was looking for. I decided to search for “Woodcock family” and found a few family sites. I looked around for about 15-20 minutes using different search terms but gave up. I had no idea what to look for, I didn’t know the names of my relatives besides my maternal grandparents.
A few years later, after getting an actual computer with internet service, I began to look up how to research your last name. It didn’t take long to figure out this common curiosity (well not as common as today) and researching had a name – GENEALOGY!
I opened an Ancestry.com account mid-2004 and created a tree with the information I knew. By this time, I found out my paternal grandparents’ names. In December of that same year, I posted on a couple of forum boards on Genealogy.com looking for information. I didn’t have much information and needed a push. Without the family members that would know names I really couldn’t find much. In the meantime, I did a small interview with my maternal uncle, John. He had mentioned an aunt Mary Mac. I asked what her full name was and he said: “that’s how I knew her…”. Another piece of the puzzle to be solved. I would ask my dad about his family, but all he knew were his parents’ names. He didn’t know his grandparents’ names or anything of the sort. When I asked why, he said he “just didn’t ask those things”. I just couldn’t believe that a child wouldn’t ask his grandparents what their names were.
A couple of months shy of one year later, I received a notification that someone responded to my post in the McKenzie forum on Genealogy.com. I was excited! There wasn’t much information provided to me at the time, but goodness gracious, what a path it would have me going down and how much fun it would be then and now.
I started being “family nosy” in the late 1990’s with small last name lookups. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that I really started to wonder; who were my family, where did they come from, how did they live and most importantly, what path did they take to lead to me!
This is where my true testament came into play. I had always been a great researcher, whether it be for an English paper in school, a speech for my public speaking class, or even writing a report on a book that I had never read. I would have never imagined how powerful my research qualities combined with my amazing gut guidance would be when it came to researching my family history. Obviously with a little help along the way.
To be continued…