The man in the 1859 picture? He's my great-great grandpa, Napoleon Bonaparte Trenor, 29 years old. The little lady is his 16 year old wife, Almedia.
They have quite a story and were part of America's journey to greatness.
I'm here to help you find your past and share your story with your family.
If you're reading this, the tree has already been planted. I'm here to share how you can go out a limb and pick some fruit. You're going to get some calluses on your hands as we dig to the roots and you just might fall and break an arm when you find that limb you've climbed too is... well, kind of rotten. But that's what makes this kind of research exciting!
When I started time traveling, this exploration into my past, I was a teetotaler. I hardly ever had any alcohol. Now, ten years later... well, let me give you some advice that will help you on your journey. Have a glass of wine. Nothing too strong, just something to help you relax.
Let's get started, okay?
You might need to uncork another bottle of wine and let it breathe. This is going to be great fun.
Adding branches to your tree is as simple as collecting names and birthdays. Start with your spouse and those small people who keep draining your refrigerator and pantry.
Now, call your in-laws. Yes, just dial the phone, call 'em. When they see your number, they'll roll their eyes and consider not answering, but then "What if it's an emergency? Something has happened to grandkids. I'd better answer."
Imagine their surprise and shock when they realize that you are taking an interest in their side of the family. They'll try to sidetrack you and tell you about Aunt Edith's gall bladder and that they suspect Uncle Herbert is hiding something. (It's at this point that you must decide to finish off the second bottle of wine or switch to Jack & Coke.)
In the future, you will want to add family interest stories like those of Aunt Edith and Uncle Herbert (yick), but right now you just need names and birthdays.
I've collected so much information on my family, I'm gonna be rich. I can successfully blackmail almost every one in my family, especially Uncle Herbert! And you know what? It never was Aunt Edith's gall bladder. The witch drinks like a freak'n fish.
So, where do I keep all of this information?
On a web service. I use this one: www.myheritage.com
Log in and sign up for the 14 day trial or just the free version. You won't like it, but right now all you have are some names and birthdays. The free version can handle all of that. Enter the info that you have and your tree will sprout branches.
After a while, you'll want to upgrade... in increments because the full version is about $300 per year.
That's it. That's how you get started.
At this stage, you will consume just enough alcohol to stay relaxed. But... about 100 years into the past, and you'll be there before you know it, things are going to get hairy. We're going to need access to court records, newspapers, Jack Daniels, census records, straight vodka, immigration records, moonshine, and more.
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