In 1969, I received a letter from a cousin I never knew and would not meet for another 25 years. It was a brief 4-generation outline of my paternal family beginning with a great grandfather who was born in 1849. 1849!?!? I couldn’t get my teenage head wrapped around that concept! 1849…. The letter held my interest for a couple of days. I asked my father if he knew anything about the information in the letter. He knew his own immediate family: mother, father, grandmother and a couple of half-siblings, but that was the extent of what he knew or was willing to share. The letter was folded and safely put away for almost 30 years. “What you don’t know won’t hurt you!” was the typical response from him about his family and pretty much the same from my mother. I knew her mother, my grandmother, as she lived next store to us in the old Victorian duplex in Springfield, MA along with my 2 maiden aunts. “What you don’t know won’t hurt you!”
Fast forward to 1997. I’m now living alone and I was looking for some software to load onto my new computer. “Family Tree Maker” practically jumped off the shelf, promising to help me find those lost treasures of family fame and fortune. I pulled out the letter from my cousin and began a family tree. It began slow and built into quite the “hobby” and now the “profession”. My personal data base contains over 39,000 family members, some of whom are still alive!
I’ve now branched out into a field that couldn’t be farther from the profession I’ve been in from my youth. I continue as a research associate at the Museum of Springfield History and Archives. I belong to a number of professional genealogical associations such as New England Historic Genealogical Society, Massachusetts Genealogical Council, Association of Professional Genealogists and the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists. I’m the Vice President of Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society and the New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. I’ve taught hundreds of avid genealogists from the basics to advanced research techniques, conducted workshops, provided personal consultation and worked as a private genealogy researcher on a contract basis.
Married since 2007 to Karen, I couldn’t be happier. She’s a fabulous partner and also an avid genealogist, although she’ll say she’s not as avid as me! Well, maybe she’s right, but she’s still a fabulous partner and extraordinarily helpful and supportive.
“The only people with whom you should try to get even with are those who have helped you.”
― John E. Southard