I’ve recently become obsessed with researching genealogies on Ancestry. I find the whole process really intriguing. I have offered to do a tree for anyone who is interested. Unfortunately the two people who agreed quickly came up with dead ends. Ancestry has billions of records, but apparently not enough from certain areas in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to get anywhere for those two trees. Very disappointing! My family, with long extensions back into the USA seems to have endless records.
My husband is Mexican, and doing his family tree has been the most fun so far. His family was shocked but excited that I’ve come across an abundance of documents. They assumed that the record keeping was so poor back then (it definitely was), that I wouldn’t find anything. What I have found has been utterly fascinating, and a testament to older attitudes to government and keeping records in Mexico. Sometimes births weren’t registered for up to 10 years after the fact. Learning what was important at the time in different countries, and how they went about recording that information gets me excited, and sometimes a bit frustrated.
I find it very heard to read the Mexican documents due to poor penmanship, and there are many words I’m unfamiliar with, but it is good to get my brain working hard. I came across this one document officially recognizing two sons as legitimate, as their parents got married decades after they were born. When I first read it, I thought I misunderstood, but I didn’t. Both of the sons were named “Ramón”. One was just Ramón, and the other Ramón Antonio, the latter being my husband’s direct relative. I can find no explanation for naming both sons, who continued to live late in their lives the same name. I haven’t yet come across an ancestor that they could have been named after. Needless to say, it was difficult to keep track of who was who in the documents, and for a time I thought they were even more bizarrely: twins. That is because Ramón Antonio’s birth registration only lists him as Ramón. What a headache, but I’ve finally got it sorted out. They were born about 10 years apart.
Another amusing thing is when a child with a certain name passes away, and then they name the next child the same name. Come on Mexico, there are more than a handful of names going around!
In my own family tree I found a relative who married three women consecutively with the same first name. USA, you get the same note as Mexico!
I have also found stories of intrigue: people getting shot, kidnapped, and having scandalous affairs. Also the tragic: dying on the way over from Europe, having most of their family murdered, and entire livelihoods being destroyed.
There are potentially even more interesting stories, but I have recently discovered that some genealogies have been purposely made incorrect in order to please the person who paid for it to get done. Many people aren’t okay with accepting the fact that their family is most likely very ordinary, so the genealogists fabricate connections in lines even if the dates don’t make sense (they omit them for the family) in order to surprise. Someone recently posted on social media a “branch” of their tree with such obvious errors I’m surprised she posted it. So and so is the father of the other guy, but so and so was born after? Nothing in my family tree is that obviously wrong, but unfortunately I am going to have to go through my maternal tree again to make sure everything is properly cited.
One thing I would be really interested in doing is traveling to see where my and my husband’s ancestors lived, maybe visit their graves, and see if I can come across other documents not yet on Ancestry. Any excuse to travel is a good one for me.