Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Southern Memorial Day

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
by:Moina Michael

 Buxton Reives Conerly, Quitman Guards, Company E, 16th Mississippi Regiment
born to Owen Conerly and Louisa Stephens, Mississippi  
One of the thirty survivors of Fort Gregg
Civil War
"General Harris evacuated Fort Alexander about the time 
we were surrounded, and made his way to the rest of the 
army, in the retreat to Appomattox C. H. The men of our 
brigade left on the lines between the Appomattox and the 
James also were in the retreat and the final surrender at Appomattox. 

 Our brave Lieutenant Colonel Duncan was left in Fort 
Gregg, wounded in the head, in an unconscious condition, 
rolling in the blood of his fallen comrades, when we were 
marched out. 

Our bullet-ridden flag that had been borne proudly on so 
many victorious fields bad been planted on its last rampart, 
waved its last defiance, and gone down on the bodies and 
laved in the blood of its brave followers and defenders, who 
here made a chapter for the story of the Army of Northern 
Virginia and left a gem for their mother State to place in the 
crown of her soldiers who had responded to her call to 
arms and faithfully performed their last duty."
To many Memorial Day weekend is just another three day weekend. They barbeque, picnic, camp, play sports, and watch the races on television  However, there are those that take a moment to remember the day and reflect on the many men and women that sacrificed their very lives for us.

Here in the south we like to say that we started it all, Memorial Day that is. Columbus, MS claims to be the birthplace of Decoration Day. On April 25, 1866 women began laying wreaths on the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers to commemorate their sacrifice. Before long Decoration Day spread out beyond Columbus, MS and became known as Memorial Day.

Gettysburg National Park held large ceremonies from 1868 on and was home to the 50th reunion of the bloodiest battle in the war. They held a parade and reenactments, and solemnized the day with speeches in remembrance.

In my family it is a day to remember Great Uncle Ward Saucier who did not come home from WWII, and is buried far away in Italy. To remember the sacrifices of my Grandfather's brother Edward Ladner who was never the same after the Battle of the Bulge. To sit and read the writings of Great great Uncle Buxton R. Conerly, and his brother my Great great grandfather Luke Ward Conerly on the 16th Infantry in the Civil War. To go down to the cemetery and place a flag and flowers on my husband's grandfather's grave,  Francis Ladner. To sit back and look around at how many flags are flapping in the breeze on this day and to say a quiet Thank you to them all.
  The Blue And The Gray
Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)
By the flow of the inland river,
    Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
    Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Under the one, the Blue,
            Under the other, the Gray
These in the robings of glory,
    Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
    In the dusk of eternity meet:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgement-day
        Under the laurel, the Blue,
            Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours
    The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
    Alike for the friend and the foe;
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgement-day;
        Under the roses, the Blue,
            Under the lilies, the Gray.

So with an equal splendor,
    The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
    On the blossoms blooming for all:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Broidered with gold, the Blue,
            Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,
    On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
    The cooling drip of the rain:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment -day,
        Wet with the rain, the Blue
            Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
    The generous deed was done,
In the storm of the years that are fading
    No braver battle was won:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Under the blossoms, the Blue,
            Under the garlands, the Gray

No more shall the war cry sever,
    Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
    When they laurel the graves of our dead!
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day,
        Love and tears for the Blue,
            Tears and love for the Gray.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tell me about when.....

The one thing I guess I never got tired of hearing from my grandfather was the stories of his life. He would sit for hours telling us all kinds of tales, of pirates and buried silver. Of pranks he played, of decisions he made. He was 19 years old when his father was killed walking down the road, hit by a bunch of teenagers in a car trying to make the ferry. My grandfather then had the responsibility to raise his siblings and take care of his mother. He was the oldest of ten children, the youngest only 3months old. He promised he would stay and raise them until they were able to take care of themselves, and he did.

After his father died  he went to work building the Edgewater Gulf Hotel. This is his story in his own words, as I wrote them from the recording made many years ago when we asked him to tell us about back when.........

"Building the Edgewater Gulf Hotel"

After papa died. We came back to Gulfport in 1926. I had to, because at that time I was 19 years old and only making seven dollars a week! I couldn't feed Mama and them on seven dollars a week. So I told Mr. Mitchell, who I was working for then. He said, "If you got to go, you got to go, but I hate for you to go." But I said, "Yeah but I can't feed mama and them on seven dollars a week." 

So, they were building the Edgewater Gulf Hotel. My cousin Edgar Knight was a brick layer. His mama was papa's sister y'see, Aunt Lillie.  I stayed with Aunt Lillie and Edgar, he had a brand new Model T Ford. I stayed with them until I could get mama and them with me, about a month after papa died, they had to stay in Waveland, and I worked up at Edgewater. Hard! Edgar's the one who got me the job, talked to the manager, and told him about my daddy and that I had a big family. And he said bring him, and I'll give him a job. It was hard! I was rolling wheel... I was only about a hundred and thirty pounds, 'bout like Roger, skinny. I was rolling them big wheel barrels, not these little things. Rolling with mortar on them, up planks about that wide, y'see. They were pouring the floor about that time and I'm rolling them big wheel barrels with those big strapping husky men. I told Edgar, man, this is killing me! He said, "I'm going to get you a better job." And he did! 

First he got me a job with the brick layers, he talked to his boss. And all I had to do was carry bricks where they wanted them, you know up on the scaffolding, hand them bricks. And kept them supplied. That was much easier. Then I was making twenty-five dollars a week, and that was good, I mean from seven! 

Well, so my cousin went and talked to the manager from New York who was putting in the refrigeration. He told him about me. "Bring him to me" he said, "I'll give him a job, that way he'll make more money." Edgar said, "Well he needs it!" "Well I'll give it to him!" 

So he says, "Now son, I'm going to put you down here," They were putting down big angle irons for the shelves, in the big refrigerator. As big as this room. And I had to cut the... an angle iron is shaped like this...they had a concrete floor, it was already down. And I had to take a star drill, they called it, and you hit,.. it was a round piece of iron about as round as your finger, and on the end was grooves, cut like a star. And you tap, He told me in the evening when he was leaving, "Now you can work, I'm not going to be here, I'm going home, but you can work till six, seven, nine o'clock as long as you want to work and I'll pay you over time." So I said okay, and I worked till nine o'clock, after working all day! And he'd put the mark, and I'd come along to that mark and I'd take the hammer and hit, turn, hit, and turn it. Until you got a little hole about this deep. You kept on till you got all the way around it. You had to dig, I think it was an inch or more in that concrete, and it had to be right! Where those marks were. And then they came with that angle iron see, and they put them in there and cemented around them. And one of the first weeks I worked with that man, I made fifty-six dollars! I was thrilled to death! And he was too. And he even wanted me to go to New York when they finished the job, he said, "Son," It was the Loyal Lloyd Refrigeration Co. from New Jersey. "Son, you come back, and go home with me. I'll get you a job in the plant, where they make all these refrigerators." 

He was one of the bosses from that plant y'see. But I told him,"Man, I've got my mama and nine children, sisters and brothers." He said, "Well you come, you come and work and make enough money. And send to your Mother and them." he said, "And you can also make enough that later, you can move them up here." And I thought, Dang! New Jersey from here? Eww, that's too far from the Gulf Coast for me! Boy, (laughing)! So, I said, "No, I think I'm going to stick around here. I don't think I'm coming." But anyway, he really wanted me to go, he said, "I'll help you every way I can." He sure was a nice man! He helped me too! I guarantee ya! 
So that evening, see we got off at four o'clock, and they gave all the workers, painters, carpenters, electricians, laborers, and they said. "Look we have to get all this paint off these windows, we're opening tonight and we've got to get these windows clean." So they said, "If ya'll work on it, we'll feed you." So they fed us two or three times that night from the kitchen. We went into the dining room and ate! Y'hear. So we up on about the fifth floor and we're cleaning the windows, see. And the guys are working with me and one was sitting in the window, he put the sash down and he'd hold on and wash the outside, and I washed the inside. So this fella said, "Ladner, your turn to get outside." I said, "Like hell!" (laughing) I said, "This guy'll go home, I'm not sticking myself outside that window! Five, six stories up in the air! (laughing), Uh Uh, noo way!" But he got outside, that, sonofa" ( laughing) We had to wash windows all night. They were paying the mechanics to do that labor and work. Their wages, y'see. But they had to have the place ready. So we went a couple of times that night and ate. Boy, I mean they fed us too! So I worked all day and all night. And I made more money, that I made in a whole week, in that day and night. They paid us over time that night.

Satsumas, rock-a-chaws and picnics at the cemetery

Just a normal every day trek to the cemetery in South Mississippi. 

Hey, let's grab a bag of satsumas and head on down to the graveyard.

This is a normal everyday saying down here in the south. I don't know why we grab a bag of satsumas to eat while we are walking around the stones. I guess because they are so plentiful and they are usually sold on the back roads that you travel to get to those old cemeteries.

My sister moved up north to Connecticut and her friends said, "What the heck is a satsuma??" I was shocked that no one else knew what a satsuma was, and so was my sister. Trying to explain a satsuma to a person is not easy! It is not an orange, it is not quite like a tangerine, it's a well, it's just a satsuma!

I love nothing more than going to the cemetery on a bright sunny day, toting my bag of satsumas and bringing along a broom for cleaning the sand off the graves. Dragging along a chair to place in the shade of an old spindly oak for one of the old folks that always tag along to supervise.

In the fall we will all be out getting the cemeteries all cleaned up and having a grand impromptu family reunion. I guess this is why many families have picnics right there at the cemetery. After all we are all there to pay our respects and tidy up the graves for All Saint's Day, so we might as well eat! This is an all day event because by the time you get through seeing cousins and other folks that you haven't seen since last year, you still have got to work to clean up all those graves. Sometimes hopping from one cemetery to the next.

Of course, I always forget to wear proper shoes! It is so hot and most of the cemeteries are full of sand, so I usually wear my sandals. Not a fantastic idea when there are rockachaws lurking about. Before I know it I will have one stuck in my foot and will be hopping about hollering for someone to please pull the little sucker out!

Wait a minute... I know you are saying what the heck is a rockachaw???  Rock-a-Chaw was the name the Choctaw Indians gave to a native plant. It means the devil grass. Most people would probably call it a sandbur. To natives of the Gulf Region it is a rockachaw and they sting like the devil when they are pulled out. St. Stanislaus school even named their football team after it.

Now of course I will regret not wearing tennis shoes, and my husband will point this fact out to me as I limp around the rest of the day trying to avoid more rockachaws. Some will hitchhike their way home with me on my clothing and days later I will be once again pricked by the little devils!

Of course when my husband is busy cutting the grass, or acid washing the stones, I will sneak off with camera in hand to go finish trying to get my photos for transcribing the cemetery. However, I will soon hear my named yelled across the cemetery, to get back to business, but that won't keep me from trying again later.

The lonely graves that seem so abandoned always call out to me, and I con my husband into cleaning these graves too, by telling him they are related to him somehow. "So, this is your great uncle so and so, poor thing didn't have any kids, we need to clean this one too. It's a shame." Then along comes some of those cousins, and of course my husband says, "Hey did you know this is great uncle so and so?" OOOPS! Now I have to fess up.

But, I think he was on to me the whole time!

I love going to the cemetery, on any given day. All you have to do is say let's go, and I'm there!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Women's World Champion Welder 1943

The whole census buzz has me thinking on the 1940's and what was happening on the home front. Women were out working in places they had never before thought to venture. One such woman was my Great Aunt, Vera Anderson. She was a female welder for Ingall's Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She became the Women's World Championship Welder in 1943 and then again in 1944. Aunt Vera was touted as, "The pretty blue eyed welder" by newspapers, magazines, and in welding advertisements. She won $350 in war bonds, a silver cup, and a trip to the White House to have tea with Mrs. Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt even wrote of the meeting in her personal writings. The magazine Mademoiselle named her as one of their 1943 Merrit Award Winners. She was only 19 years old.

The Competition:
After a heated elimination tournament held by Ingall's Shipyard, Vera Anderson was chosen the best of the torch girls and declared the winner and representative for the shipyard. Ingall's then issued a challenge to other yards and the Henry J. Kaiser's Oregon yard took up the challenge. Their challenger was Hermina Strmiska a former housewife.

On May 28th 1943 in Pascagoula, Ms they met and performed like champs. The competition was divided into two parts. With a rest period in between, during which time the men offered their advice. Vera Anderson's time was 24 minutes 46 2/3 seconds with 95.55 on quality. While Hermina Strmiska finished in 29 minutes 9 4/5 seconds and a quality score of 93.50.

Then in 1944 Vera was challenged once more and had to defend her title.  On January 29, 1944, after a four hour contest with Edna Slocum of California, the West Coast Champion, Vera won once again with a 92.26 quality with Mrs. Slocum  having 84. 63 in quality.

Aunt Vera went on after the war to marry and raise a family. She was an ordinary country girl working as a waitress, who went on to become famous, if for just a little while, as one of the many women who left the ideals of womanhood far behind during a time of great sacrifice and hardship. We are extremely thankful for the dedication, time and effort that these women  provided our country in its time of crisis. They were out of their element and yet, they found that they could excel at a man's job in a man's world. They paved the way for the modern woman to continue to do so.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cousin Maud and Meta

When I was a child we would go at least once each summer to New Orleans to visit the cousins. They were old and they were genteel. They were like no one I had ever met before. They were twins who were born in the 1800's. I mean to a kid born in 1969 this was like OLD. They were the oldest people I knew. They actually knew people who had fought in the Civil War. I was in love with the idea of them being born in a different century and with what they could tell me. It was all so romantic.
They lived in a very beautiful home for the aged in New Orleans. They were retired nurses, and neither of them had ever married. Why? I wanted to ask, Why did you never marry? But, I was a child and children in this era and this part of the world were seen and not heard, unless spoken to.

They were so beautiful even as elderly women. I would just sit and absorb them and their ways. I never minded sitting silently to listen to them talk and laugh.  I guess that I was secretly obsessed with them. I was obsessed with the whole idea of knowing someone born of a different century.

Then 1980 came and we lost Cousin Meta. Now Cousin Maud was alone for the first time without her twin. We continued to visit Cousin Maud each year until her death in 1984.

I felt so bereft that they were gone, these two relics of a time past. With their passing my grandfather, born in 1906, was now the oldest person that I knew. After their death I was determined that I would not ever again sit back silently. I would ask the questions about my family and their lives. I was old enough to know that I had just lost the most valuable resource in learning about that side of my family.

My poor Grandfather now became the object of my obsession and luckily he obliged me with plenty of good facts and stories to whatever I wanted to know.

So, now when I go to New Orleans and I pass by that lovely home, I think of them; Cousin Maud and Meta. I wonder what they would think about me poking into their personal lives now, all these years later. When I find old news articles talking about one of them as a young girl performing in a school play, or graduating from nursing school, and then teaching in the nursing school themselves. I finally see them as more than two genteel southern ladies with hand tatted lace and antique furniture. I see the women they truly were. Something a child so wanted to know, but was afraid to ask.

My grandmother before she died said about my genealogy finds regarding Cousin Maud and Meta, "Oh, wouldn't they have loved this, wouldn't they have loved knowing this about their grandparents."

This is why I do genealogy, because with it I can go back in time and view the lives of those I loved and knew as well as those that I did not. With genealogy, they all become alive in a way to me, no matter which century they were born in.

St. Anna's Residence, New Orleans

  St. Anna's Residence in New Orleans, home of Cousin Maud and Meta in their old age. The benefactor of the home was the famous Jenny Lind.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How did you find that???

I often help others find people in their tree that they have been looking for and just couldn't quite seem to find. Usually they are right there in plain view, you just gotta know how to find them.

I always joke with my husband and tell him that I love genealogy because it makes me feel like a private eye, and he better watch out cause I know how to dig up info on just about anyone, and even he can't hide from me.

Well, this is because through the years I have developed a system of finding the most difficult relatives in my tree. Some of them haunt me in my sleep, I would be willing to swear that they come to me and tell me where to find them, because when I am having a difficult time on a person, I will just stop, and make a note to go back to them later. Even though it will nag me and then later haunt me in my sleep. I will literally dream the names, and when I wake up I will sometimes have an idea of where I should go look, or how to change the variation of the name for a new search. Bingo, I end up finding them which then leads to all kinds of new trails.Who knows? It may be that just getting away from a difficult search for awhile and going back to it later is all it takes sometimes.

One thing I actually use a lot, was handed to me by my eldest son. A few years back, he says, "Hey Mom, you know what you would love? Google books." Well, I love it alright! Not for what he thought I would like it for but for the wonderful stuff I can dig up on dead ancestors!! If you go to Google books and do a search for the name you are looking for, chances are that you may find them in a book that is offered for free, or is in a library, or be able to purchase, or even read a snippet online. All these things have led me to find many, many links that would have otherwise been brick walls.

Message boards! I can't say enough about using message boards. Very few people use them anymore. Back five years ago or so, there were so many threads I could barely keep up. Use this source, there may be others out there looking for the same people as you and they may have different info to share or add! I found a whole family branch that we did not know existed because I posted queries on a message board 8 years ago, and through an internet search, the names came up and one of my new found cousins, saw it and emailed me and VOILA, instant new information!! is so wonderful with all the census records. Sometimes you will need to clarify your search. By this I mean don't just stop at Epaminoudas Stravapodi. With a name like this someone out there could not have possibly spelled it correctly. So first of all try to find out what kind of name this is, back to Google. Do a search on the name and it will probably say, Did you mean Epaminondas??? Then ask for what kind of name is Stravapodi and you will get Greek names, and it will say Stravapodis, Strasapody and so on. Eureka, now you have some ideas to go off of on the census. Just use a notebook or folder. I like to keep one on each name so you can go back to it later and see what you already tried and what worked and did not.

Now Google the name. Come on are you going to tell me you never Googled yourself???  Well, Google your ancestor as well, just because they are dead doesn't mean they aren't listed on Google!!
You may come up with many, many hints that you never thought of.

Fold3 is also a fantastic place to hunt an ancestor. If they were in the military, they likely have the records. Same thing however in searching on this site as any other, try variations of the name.

If you can't find Grandpa or Grandma, try an Aunt or Uncle's name. Look in the census before and the one after the one you found another family member in. Families tended to live near one another. They may be a block away with a misspelled name. is my online newspaper source. I LOVE LOVE them! They are always adding new stuff. However same thing goes, use name variations. Also if you know the exact date of a death for instance, you can just put in the date and the state, and then search that newspaper for the obit, sometimes it is there, just not spelled the way you are searching for.

I also love the state archives.

Use your libraries!!!

Order records. I have ordered records sometimes just because I had a name for a person and was not sure, but when I ordered the record it either confirmed, or denied my gut feeling. Better to do it this way. Well, I lost five bucks for a death record of someone not related to me, but better that then I just add them to my tree and hope I was right. Now what to do with that record. Donate a copy back to the state archives from where it came, it may help someone who is related to this person. If we all would do random acts of genealogy kindness such as this we would have a fantastic online source for future generations.

Do not order records from companies claiming to find any record for you online! You will pay a fee for them to tell you where to order your record from, that is all! I did this once upon a time, so lesson learned, now to pass it on to all of you! Only order from your state archives. Many let you look up on their data base to see if the name is there and print it out and mail it in with your fee.

Family trees online. While I love that they are there, I would caution NOT to take what is on someones tree as fact unless it is sourced. You can however use it as a possible hint, and you go from there to make sure that all the names you found add up. By this I mean, when you find a tree that has Aunt Sally's marriage and her 12 children listed, and you previously did not know these names, write them down. Put a ? by them. Now, do your OWN footwork. Go to a census that they may be alive in, find it check for yourself that Aunt Sally is there with these actual children. Try to find the children in obits, make sure they have Aunt Sally listed as their mother in them. These kinds of things will help you become a better researcher as well as help you to become more knowledgeable about your family. You will also be able to PROVE to others that your information is accurate.

Facebook and other social media!! Your cousins are out there, some may think you are a crazy stalker when you send them a message saying, "Hi, you don't know me but we are related. We share the same great great grandparents. I do genealogy and was hoping that you could possibly help me with some recent family information." You may never get an answer back, or you just may get a fantastic response saying they would love to share info with you. They may have photos you don't have and vice verse.

These are just a few things I have learned through my 29 years of researching. They are there somewhere, you just need to know how to find them!! Good luck, and I know you are now going to go Google yourself :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tell me about back then....

My son is a history major in college and is about to graduate. He is doing his history dissertation on what he was spoon fed as a child born on the Gulf Coast who carries one of the original settlers surname. When he came home for Spring Break he said to me, "Mom I need to borrow some of your books, and I also need to get you to answer some question for my oral history portion." Well, I was so proud I was bouncing. Not because he was using me, but because he was using what I had handed down to him. The promise I made my 94 year old Grandfather before he died had come to fruition. I had not let them be forgotten, my son did hear what I had been saying all those years to him. It mattered enough to him to pass it on and to use it in his paper. This meant he would also pass it on to his children.

As a child, I can not remember a time when I did not hear the story of my family coming to the Coast in 1699 with D'Iberville. (They celebrate the landing each year, this was the 313th year this past weekend) When you have a town named after your surname, and another after your ancestor's forename that alone makes you feel special enough to want to know why.

I was an odd child anyway, but when most were outside playing, I was indoors pestering the adults for stories. I wanted to know about back then. How, who, and why we were here. This delighted many of the older people and they obliged me. These people were born at the turn of the century and some before that. So, I loved to hear about how they had to put great great Uncle Jules on a spring (mattress) in the back of the wagon as not to jar him because he had a busted appendix, and there was only one doctor between, Ocean Springs and Waveland, Mississippi, and he was in Gulfport. Or, how they had to bury their money and silver in old iron pots to keep it safe from Jean Laffite and his band and some of it is still buried there today, forgotten. About how in the 1913 Hurricane, which was my grandfather's 9th birthday, came up while his father and his crew were out hauling oyster shells from Louisiana and their schooner sunk and they all had to swim to St. Joe's lighthouse and wait until it blew out. How my grandfather begged his mother to leave their beachfront home and go inland to his Aunt's and finally they did, wading in waist deep water and high winds with a baby. How the next morning they went to the beach and their home was destroyed, but seeing the memory in his eye, and the catch in his voice as he said, "We stood on that beach all morning and waited to see if  Papa and them had made it. After awhile I saw a speck on the horizon and it was a skiff, I saw a shirt waving and I hollered it's them it's them. It sure was them too. Papa said, I was sure worried bout y'all, and here we were worried bout them." This I can remember word for word today, I heard it so many times.
So, with stories like this who couldn't get into genealogy? I remember my first notebook. I was about 8 years old and we had gone to visit my paternal grandfather's sister who lived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She had a huge booklet she had done on our Saucier family. I wanted it! I asked every time we visited about it, so this time I was taking names. A few yeas later she let my father take it home and copy it for me. I still have it today. From that moment on I was writing stuff down, and tape recording anyone who would let me.

My great great grandfather, Luke Ward Conerly was the author of a book written in the early 1900's and is in reprint today. Called the History of Pike County Mississippi. It contains the lineage of several families in central Mississippi as well as a great deal of information regarding soldiers who fought in the Civil War. So I guess, I got the History bug honestly. :)

As an adult I married my 5th cousin, (that is another blog) so, we both had the same family names of Ladner in common. So, when you are married into a family that says, "Oh I knew your great grandfather, that was a good man." you know you hit the jackpot in regards to more family stories. From here I continued to write everything down, then one day came a little thing called the world wide web. The first thing I did was search for my family. Sure enough there were others out there like me looking for their family. I soon found out how to use a gedcom and off I went. Next came the ancestrydotcom site and well, I haven't stopped since.