Why I “Do” Genealogy

I’ve mentioned before that I had a genealogist in the family, but my incentive to start digging was a sense of my own mortality. My parents separated when I was fifteen months old, and my mother moved us from Henry County, Georgia, back to Rock Island County, Illinois, shortly thereafter. One result of that was my total ignorance of half of my family medical history. Once I had the time and opportunity to do some sleuthing (thanks to the internet and my first Family Tree Maker program) it became more and more like eating really good potato chips.

It started with medical history: my father died of liver failure (good to know), and my surviving aunt told me that my paternal grandfather also had a bad liver although that didn’t kill him. Now I pay much more attention to possible liver damage when it’s mentioned among the side effects of drugs.

Next I thought to follow my Y chromosome a little further back, and found many of the nuts-and-bolts facts back to my 2nd great-grandfather, Colville Babb, and was introduced to the work of Jean Sargent and Robert E. Babb, among many others, who did this stuff before computers and went clear back to Phillip Babb when he was the harbor master on Hog Island in the Isles of Shoals in the 1600s. They did this stuff before computers! They crawled through church records and court houses and kept track of it all with note cards! Yeah, Robert said that Joseph’s youngest son was born in 1791, years after Joseph was dead, but he was doing this stuff with note cards!

I found that my great uncle Claude was killed in Belleau Wood serving with the 1st Bn. of the 5th Marines. I’ve deployed twice with elements of 1/5! Plus, Claude was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French before he fell!

I found that those two little girls in Colville’s family after the war were Thomas’ daughters. Thomas didn’t survive the war, and his wife remarried but then died in childbirth and the girls were returned to his family. One of them married my great-grandmother’s brother.

I also found that another great-granduncle was a medic during the war, and I’m a retired medic.

Where does one stop? When does one stop asking the next question? I have no idea; I’m still digging. I’m still finding stuff about my maternal grandfather (adopted by his stepfather but inherited Huntingtons from his biological father) and adding what I can to the work on my mother’s family; and I’ve barely started on my father’s famly.


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