There are so many ways to get bitten by the genealogy bug. MyHeritage member Melva Jo Wright of Florida (US) took over the research of her maternal aunt (Geraldine Martinez) when she died in 2004.
Her aunt’s four sisters helped with the research and each received a family history binder from their researcher sister.
Most have shared them with me, but I’m still waiting to hear from the others to complete their details in our family tree. I hope they contain some original pictures, as most of those I already have are copies.
Melva Jo, 60, has three children and three stepdaughters. Her mother worked at the Pentagon and her father was a stockcar racer, killed in a 1951 race. Her mother remarried, to an Army major, and the family lived in Germany and France.
Among her exciting discoveries: the Mayflower’s John and Priscilla Alden are her direct ninth great-grandparents. She's also related to writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, President Abraham Lincoln, Clement Clark Moore (who wrote “The Night Before Christmas), as well as Orson Wells, Marilyn Monroe, Dick and Jerry Van Dyke and Ricky Nelson, to name a few.
Melva Jo joined my Heritage in November 2010. She likes the site because it is so easy to maneuver.
Everything is just a click away. The price is reasonable.
Although her immediate family has helped with the research, most of the input she’s received has been from second through sixth cousins, whom she’s met through her project.
If we are related, they are welcome to become site members.
Her family tree includes some 22,600 people. The living are all over the US, in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Washington State, Texas, Virginia, Georgia and Florida.
She often uses Smart Matches, and if she finds differences, she does the research. She admits that, “I haven’t always been right.”
Her research has uncovered many unknown and long-lost relatives, and she hasn’t been shy in contacting them.
We have gotten to know one another and help each other with our family trees and share family photos. I hope to meet some of them in the near future.
One of her family mysteries of history concerns the 200-year-old Brockman Cemetery in Orange County, Virginia, where her ancestors lived.
Someone took the headstones to put in an abandoned church yard because there were no headstones. The remains were not moved, Just the headstones. Who does that?
For more information, Melva Jo wrote to the website Find a Grave, requesting some headstone photos. A man replied that the headstones were no longer there, that they had been moved and he wasn't sure where they were.
Then, Virginia Blossom, also with Find a Grave, visited the cemetery, discovered the Ellisville Church (where the headstones were moved), took photos of them and of the abandoned church. Virginia did more research, discovered a family member who lived nearby and was told the same story.
I have been in touch with a newly-discovered cousin and she revealed that Paul Brockman, now deceased, tried to get the headstones moved back to their original location. See the photos on Find a Grave.
We asked Melva Jo to share some tips for beginning family historians:
- Share your research, photos - anything you have - to help others.
- Remember that there are older individuals out there who do not have the technologies that younger generations have at their fingertips.
- Make sure that you receive permission for anything you use, and that you always give credit where credit is due.
- Be patient. More and more people are enjoying genealogy every day. They just might have the information for which you are searching.
We thank Melva Jo for sharing her story.
Do you have ancestors who came over on the Mayflower? Are you related to presidents, comedians, writers, actors or musicians? Let us know in the comments below, or share them on Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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