And the winner is . . . One of the best parts of being a RootsTech 2018 Ambassador is the ability to give away a free pass. Several readers entered the Getting Organized giveaway and shared either a tip or question about organizing their genealogy. Today I’m pleased to announce that the winner is Barbara Garrett, genealogist, author, and blogger at Digging for My Roots.
If you’re interested in winning a free pass, there’s still time! Check out Nicole’s giveaway: Get Inspired! Connect. Belong.
Family History is for Everyone: Barbara Garrett
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in a little backwater town on the Mojave Desert in California and now live in the Los Angeles area. I’m a wife of 39 years, a mom of three grown children, all married, and the grandmother of six little people.
How did you get started in family history? Do you remember an initial “spark” or incident that inspired you? Did you have any experiences as a child/teen in school or at home that helped you be more inclined toward family history?
I think my love for genealogy was planted in me early, but it lay dormant until about five years ago. I remember as a little girl that my Nanna, when meeting someone new, would often ask, ‘Now, who are your people?’ She knew that where you came from, the story of your ‘people’, would help her to know and understand better the person in front of her.About five years ago, my husband and I took a trip to the Isle of Man, where his great-grandparents had immigrated from in the 1850s. My husband had been talking about a visit to the island ever since we got married. So, we finally did it, and it was one of the best vacations we have ever had. We stayed in a little bed-and-breakfast just down the hill from the island’s one national museum archive, where we were shown his grandparent’s original marriage registry and the deed of sale for their property that financed their voyage to America. We were shown out the museum window where their home once stood, which is now the car park for the Manx Museum. We walked up the hill to the church where his great-grandparents had been married, and we stood by the grave where his 3-and 4-times great-grandmothers were buried in the same plot.
It was amazing to us to discover that there are stories, our stories, filed away in a museum, or on a dusty shelf somewhere, just waiting to be discovered and told.
What mentors influenced you to get started in family history and genealogy research?
As mentioned above, my maternal grandmother had a huge influence on me. She had often told me that we were eligible for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution through her Gard ancestors. She spoke of it so often that I was surprised to find out that she had never actually become a member. So, in 2016, I made a goal to join and accomplished that. It felt like an homage to my Nanna. That was my biggest goal, and Nanna was my biggest influence to accomplish that.
Books! I recently wrote a history of my father-in-law’s time in a German POW camp in World War II. His family had saved letters,newspaper clippings, Red Cross magazines, telegrams, etc. It was a stack of papers almost two inches thick! I scanned all the documents and have stored the originals carefully. I printed out copies of the book for my husband and our children. I don’t want his story to be lost. Another project was to finish the story of Pooch, my mother’s dog when she was a little girl. My grandmother had begun the story, my mother gave me her original notes, and I used those for a starting point. I’ve also written the story of my uncle, who is a Pearl Harbor survivor, the story of how the Garrets came to America from the Isle of Man, and the story of a Quaker ancestor, who was an early woman preacher in colonial North Carolina. I have plans for many, many more!
Fast forward to about two years ago, when I was researching my Gard family for my DAR application. My Revolutionary War patriot is/was Jeremiah Gard, whose family was one of the early settlers in Morristown! I had goosebumps. My family’s history is in the Combined Records of the First and Second Presbyterian Churches of Morristown. Several ancestors are buried in churchyards there, and a few of them even died in the same dysentery outbreak that killed so many of General Washington’s troops quartered there.
I recently had the opportunity to stay in Morristown again, and I went to the local library, which has a genealogy department. I poured through a huge stack of papers that were in the vertical files. I found some wonderful little nuggets about my family.
Who is your most interesting ancestor?
Hummm… I think they all are!
Thanks for sharing, Barbara!