A Quick Start Guide to Researching Your Roots, Part 5

A Quick Start Guide to Researching Your Roots, Part 5

By Shannon Warnick

I have to admire my family's sense of honesty. This month an interesting piece of "the puzzle" fell into my hands - a pamphlet - that among other things offers a fairly complete history of my great grandfather. And stuck in this pamphlet was a brief note from my great uncle to my brother, dated oddly enough what would have been my father's birthday had he not passed away the summer before.

The note simply detailed that my great uncle had used some of his "racetrack" profits to establish a Fellowship in Earth Sciences at Stanford University in honor of my great grandfather. OK, so it was no secret that there was a love of horse racing in my family. For as long as I can remember we used to go to the races with my dad or hear of excursions to the various racetracks around California. And I can remember when they talked about raising race horses. And the sorrow that surrounded the death of a promising foal.

I also knew, that risks were not limited to horses. Trips to Las Vegas and Reno were not unusual either - although children were not included. Evidently, though, the ties were a little deeper, because as I started to read the pamphlet I couldn't help but notice this line:

"Mr. Shannon obtained a loan from Joe W. Brown, who owned and operated a gambling casino in New Orleans."

Interesting choice of lenders is all I can say. But even more interesting (since there were apparently quite a few loans from Mr. Brown) was the principle that my grandfather adhered to: "if you get the profit you want out of a deal, don't worry about how much the next fellow will make." Now that is a piece of good advice I can pass along.

Between my grandfather's story and accomplishments were other interesting pieces of "color" - my great grandmother's love of baseball and my great grandfather's love of thoroughbred horse racing (and his ultimate system of betting 4 and 7 across the board in every race).

So why am I sharing all of this with you?

First, to let you know that you never know where you might find information to help fill in your family's story. In my case it was a pamphlet, but there may be newspaper articles, old letters, alumni books, or even old journals that might tell you the story behind the dates and public records.

Second, to remind you to keep telling your other relatives that you are researching your past. The more you tell them, and remind them, the more likely it is that when they uncover a diamond in the rough, they'll tell you about it (and hopefully let you borrow it).

Finally, to remind you that these types of stories are what add color to the family history. They bring the facts to life, making our ancestors real. The good, the bad, the somewhere in betweens are all a part of who our families are. Dates and lineage are important aspects of genealogy, but without the stories they still don't tell us from where we came.

Until next month, happy hunting!


About the author

Shannon Warnick is Mom to Lisa, Collin, Daniel and Sarah. She loves to research on the internet and help those around her find what they need. Shannon loves the freedom the Internet has given her. She is also a Independent Technology Consultant.


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