30 December 2016

My Journey Begins

My grandmother, Barbara Dirlam,
who started this journey.
It was early 1990 and my grandmother, Barbara Dirlam, was organizing a small family gathering at her home in Rhode Island.  She asked if I could attend to represent my own generation and meet more family members. I was 26 years old at the time, living in northern New Jersey and I drove up for the weekend to learn more of the family.

I met all sorts of new relatives, including my grandmother’s sister, Joan and Joan’s three daughters.  I also met a fellow I never even knew existed: Barbara’s half-nephew, Ned.  This was the first I ever heard of half-cousins in the family. Little did I know that meeting cousin Ned (really my second half-cousin once removed!) would start me on a family history journey that's lasted more than 25 years since!

24 December 2016


One set of great-grandparents - his first wife died and
he lost custody of those earlier children, but why?  That
mystery started me on my family history journey.
My family’s history and genealogy are a great fascination and hobby for me, but this hasn’t always been the case.  When I was first introduced to my ancestors, it was through charts shown to me by one of my grandmothers:  many names, places and dates, but little else to engage my interest.

It wasn’t until I was exposed to actual accounts of events in the lives of some of those names on the charts that I began to get drawn in.  I learned of mysteries about their actions that were yet to be resolved, details of their lives and the stories of their struggles and triumphs.  This is what finally engaged me – their stories.

I have since realized that I can relate to my ancestors even if I don’t have stories specific to them or their families.  When I know where and when they lived, perhaps their professions, I can look to history to provide me with an insight as to what their lives may have been like, bringing their historical eras and events into closer focus.