Sunday, November 4, 2012

Where It All Began

I actually didn't start genealogy research the usual way (or the correct way according to some).  I didn't start with myself, or any living relative for that matter.  I began with my 5th great-grandfather, only I didn't know it at the time.

His name was Moses Jackman, a name my eleven-year-old self found amusing.  My mother had a photocopy of a biography of his which I had looked at from time to time over the years with the knowledge that I was somehow related to him.

At the time I had a teacher who enjoyed spending her free time in the computer lab at school looking for ancestors on FamilySearch.  I caught her at it once and asked what she was so engrossed with and what the little charts and notes were about.

Sufficiently intrigued, I decided I wanted to try looking for ancestors too.  My mind pretty well immediately settled on the ancestor with the funny name, who lived and died long ago in a land far away, and who I had a vague idea I was somehow related to.

Because of the biography I had a lot of information on him already.  I used it as a guidepost in my research.  I would find a record and compare it to the biography to see how, or if, it matched up.  Luckily, a name like Moses Jackman isn't all that common so most records I found actually did pertain to him or his father (also a Moses).  Even more luckily, Moses was of old New England stock and they didn't like to move around much.  In fact, the name of the town where they had been in since before Moses' father's birth tickled me even more than the name 'Moses Jackman.'  Boscawen.  Boscawen, Merrimack, New Hampshire to be precise.  How could not want to learn about a family that lived in a town called 'Boscawen?!'

I spent the next year pretty much exclusively researching Moses' family.  In the end I had a mountain of paperwork on the family.  While a good portion of that paperwork has proved correct, because it was not sourced or in any way coherent research I ended up scrapping most of it several years ago.

Interestingly, since re-doing my research on Moses, I actually spend very little time on the family.  In fact my New England lines are by far the most neglected - surprising since it was a New England line that hooked me into genealogy to begin with.  But, I am glad I started with a New England line because it was so easy to research those people.  If it had been difficult I do wonder whether I would have stuck with genealogy research or not.  Today, I actually feel like I've come full circle in that it is the difficult lines and brick walls that I now prefer to work on and the easy ones (most in New England) that I have set aside for too many years.

In closing, all I have to say is thanks be to Moses Jackman from Boscawen, the ancestor to whom I owe so much - and where it all began.


  1. What a great story, Leah, about how you jumped into family history research. Sometimes these stories don't seem to be logical, but I can still relate to your research preference explanation. I've known for decades that one of my lines would qualify me for D.A.R., but somehow, since that line was already mapped out for me, it wasn't as interesting (challenging?) as the ones strewn with brick wall frustrations.

  2. Wow! We must be related, he is my 4th great grandfather!


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