I have become more and more interested in where I come from. Now that I have a family of my own, I think it important to know where you come from, who is in your family tree, and what your surname may mean.

Besides ancestry.com, does anyone use any other online sourcing for ancesty research?

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Nice. I work at a carpet cleaner for the moment, and I thought it nifty how soap is made. It's called saponification, and it's what occurs when you mix grease and a heavy alkaline substance. What it boils down to, is that day when I was cleaning at the Chinese restaurant, and I sprayed the HELL out of that one area going into the kitchen, small wonder it gelled up, huh?
I think its fascinating, as an American whose family is only recently in the States (within the past 80 years) - how we try to get a sense of our family history and identity. The act of emigration - especially over something as broad as an ocean (not just a country boundary) seems to have been a more traumatic (maybe not the right word) event than we might assume.

My grandparents on both sides made a very conscious decision to "raise their kids up as americans" - no native languages were taught to them. None of the old stories, music, etc. were passed down directly - and this is a great loss.

My fathers side is mostly scotch/irish - And on the irish side, very very irish - Gaelic speaking. My mothers side is polish and romany (Kalderash, from what is now the Czech republic). All my grandparents are now dead, aside from my my mother's step-father - so trying to reconstruct what was lost has been a challenge.

I have not used the ancestry tools online, relying mostly on what little my parents can tell, and what records I can find hidden in file cabinets. I do prefer the pre-ellis island version of our last name tho. "O'Strahan" much more poetic than "Strain"

Working now on trying to piece together a Romany dictionary - but being a mostly oral tradition, it's been an ongoing challenge. :) But I enjoy those.
My mother is a professional Genealogist. If you have any questions I would be happy to ask her for you. She is always eager to help people find their ancestors. Check out the links below they should help you out a little.

http://www.familysearch.org
http://www.searchforancestors.com/
http://www.dnaancestryproject.com/
Robert, thanks for that.
My father is Mohawk, French, and German. My mother is Choctaw and Cherokee. Our name used to be written d'Isque. Isque is a small village about 20 miles southeast of Boulogne-sur-Mer in Northern France in what used to be known as Prussia. My ancestors were driven out of Isque by angry Catholics because of their religion. They escaped north to Germany, smuggled past angry mobs in wine casks by sympathetic Catholic Monks. Because of the intermarriage with German Aristocracy they had relatives that took them in. During the Napoleonic Wars two of my ancestors were members of Napoleon's personal guard. Yes they were Musketeers. The Musketeers in his personal guard numbered around 600. They were murdered in the black forest on their way home to visit family. My mother's ancestry is much simpler. Mostly Choctaw ancestry with a few Cherokees. Cherokee and Choctaw are very similar in culture, language and geographic location. Unfortunately the Choctaw side is a mix of infamous and honorable characters.
This is our Coat Of Arms

"I'm an Indian outlaw...
Half Cherokee and Choctaw,
My baby, she's a Chippewah, she's a one-of-a-kind"

*lmao*

JAMMING on some Tim McGraw. Sorry. The thing about the Musketeers is TIGHT. Is it known who murdered them? I understand they were quite at odds with the Cardinal's men for most of the time....
Family stories say it was the Bavarians that opposed Napoleon, angry because they believed them to be traitors to Prussia. The black forest at that time was enemy territory for the French. Love Tim McGraw.
I'm too tired to get into this conversation fully, but I am a hack genealogist.

As far as websites go, freebies anyway... try Roostweb first, then the Social Security Death Index.

To dig into anything meaningful... start with your grandparents and work backwards. The little bits of info are usually what turn out to be the biggest breaks. Example: Searching for someone by name in the SSI Death Index comes up blank. But, your Great Aunt tells you that Great Great Grandma used to be a Jeweler in Fresno in the 20's. You could then look up the local businesses from that time and possibly find something there.

Other gold mines of information:

Library of Congress will send you info (I picked up Civil War records for some distant relatives)

Social Security Death Index will be good back to the late 1800's. Past that and it gets rocky.

Federal Census Records contain the best info, generally. Many are online.

AB
Using the SS Death Index is useful, certainly if your family has been in the US for a long time (unfortunately, less useful in my situation). Good tip.

I'll take a look through Rootsweb later today. Thanks!
If anyone has Canadian heritage like I do, here's a link to some Census data from Library and Archives Canada.
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/census/index-e.html

There's also a site on the web where people have transcribed the info from tombstones. I did the cemeteries in my town as my Eagle Scout project.
http://www.usgwtombstones.org/

My dad did the Paternal ancestry DNA test from dnaancestryproject.com that Robert mentioned. It's a pretty cool site with a lot of data. I think my dad only did the simple test so we don't have as much info as we could, and I think he wants to get the more in depth data.
I know that on this site there is a Renaissance Man thread...

A few months ago I made a list of things that I thought were mostly taught at home, some of which were things we worked to improve on throughout our life.

It got me thinking about the facets of responsability and interest that make up a mans life aside from those that seem to dominate it (family, work, eating, sex, rest).

In my list I included an item, Legacy. I was thinking that if every man considered that he was leaving a legacy, regardless of its positive or negative nature, that he may work harder at being a better man and more complete human being.

One item that I included in that area was leaving a family tree, archive or ancestry.

OK, that was a random stream of consciousness that I was sharing.... lol

If anyone is interested in what I have on the rest of the list I came up with, let me know and I may post it.

AB
In a "one thing leads to another" moment, I had been asking about Moleskine journals and the alternatives. Then, I posted a question on why do people do that in the first place? My audio book gave many excerpts from Theodore Roosevelt's journals, but I have never done it because I never expect to amount to anything of significance. It was pointed out to me that one reason to leave journals of any kind is to leave a legacy for those who follow. That makes sense, even if you are only a legend in your own mind.

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