Today we attended, together with the surprisingly large number of about 1000 other people, an all-day workshop on Ancestry being held in a large hall at the McKimmon Conference & Training Center on the North Carolina State University campus in Raleigh, in order to learn more about how to discover one’s ancestry and assemble a Family Tree.

 

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Rick has been working on his family tree for some months now, knowing that his grandfather was born in England and wanting to know more about his ancestry. His searching has already turned up some interesting facts and stories, and the more he goes into it, the more interesting it becomes.

Over the months I’ve been helping Rick, mainly by being able to decipher the scratchy, hurried handwriting of the people who gathered the Census long before computers or even good quality, ink-filled pen nibs, by virtue of me being more able than Rick to understand the addresses, towns, cities and counties and the geography they related to, with which Rick was unfamiliar.

And I’ve had some interest in “the art of ancestry” since my two brothers, Howard and Geoffrey, started assembling the Snow family tree some several years ago. So I had enough knowledge and interest in the subject to be almost as interested in the workshop as Rick was. Rick was very interested, and has been delving ever deeper into his multi-family history since we got back.

The workshop was run by a publishing company called ancestry.com whose mission is to help everyone discover, preserve and share their family history.

 

 

The workshop started at 8.30am and continued with no breaks other than a 90-minute break for lunch, until 4.30pm.

It was very interesting throughout, well-paced, and interspersed several times with prize draws in which an extraordinary number of books, charts, free subscriptions to source information, etc., etc., were handed out to lucky winners, of which I was one. In fact I was one of the earliest winners, in the first draw of the day.

I won a free subscription to Fold 3, the web’s premier collection of original military records, which I passed on to Rick for him to use.

During the lunch hour Rick and I visited the two rooms where there were exhibition stands of one sort or another, mainly selling books. I got myself involved at one of the stands where they were selling books and CDs about “the treasures of North Carolina”, mainly historical records.

Funnily enough, that morning, out of the blue, while Rick and I were having breakfast at our hotel, I received a message through my Facebook page from my friend Fred Hughes who is a well-known historian back home in Stoke-on-Trent.

Fred had seen my Facebook postings about this current U.S. trip of mine and had messaged me: “Looks as though you’re having a great time in the colonies Philip”, to which I replied: “I certainly am, Fred! They don’t seem too keen on the idea of colonies, though!”. Fred then came back with, “Teach them Philip – they still have a lot to learn about heritage.” to which I replied: “Actually today, Fred, right now in fact, we’re going to a workshop run by Ancestry.com so I’ll be able to set them straight!”

So when I came to that “treasures of Carolina” stand and saw a CD called “The Birth Of A Colony” I couldn’t resist telling them about that very timely message I’d had from Fred.

There was also a book on the stand called “Treasures Of Carolina….stories from the State archives” which I was tempted to buy, and it turned out that the writer and compiler of the book, Andrea Gabriel, was nearby and she came over to join our conversation. Somehow this turned into a jovial, quite long conversation, and I can’t remember exactly how, but when I asked Andrea to sign the book for me, when I bought it, she signed “To Philip, thanks for last night!” with her signature. Now, how, since I can’t remember how it came about, am I going to explain that??

 

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