Saturday, April 2, 2011

Researching My Heritage

Have you ever seen that show Who Do You Think You Are?  I think I blogged about it last year.  It's a show where they follow one famous person's journey to discover their heritage.  Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's sad.  It's very often enlightening - like when Matthew Broderick found out one of his ancestors actually was killed in the Civil War. (Glory, anyone?)

Anyway, I was watching it last night when I was struck with the urge to do a little research of my own.  From time to time, I do this anyway - because it's fun and interesting.  Hell, I started doing this in college when I worked in the Government Documents Department and had access to a boatload of microfiche.  I was the first Meissner to find a picture of our infamous 'Cousin Otto' - the guy who worked for Hitler.  I know a lot about my family, but there are still a few missing pieces.  (Like how exactly we're related to good ol' Otto.)

After a while of typing my paternal grandfather's name every which way - one S, two S, his real first name spelled a couple different ways, the name my father thought was his real first name but was actually his middle name. - I think I might've found the ship's document with his name on it. 

That was the big score of the night.  One document that might show when Bruno got here.  (Maybe.  I still have to talk to Mom to confirm dates and names.)  Another thing I learned?  I don't know as much about my ancestry as I thought.  Once I get to my paternal grandparents, everything just sort of stops.  I had better luck with Husband's family - but his group has some more unusual names than ours.  (Yeah, who knew Meissner was like the German equivalent to Johnson.)  At least on his mother's side.  There are about as many Sandersons as there are Meissners in the world. 

And it gets worse.  On my mom's side, the main surnames I have to work with are Judd and Sherman.  (Speaking of which, next week's episode of WDYTYA features Ashley Judd - who I may or may not be related to.)  Try finding those needles in the internet haystack.  Bleh.  Thank goodness my last name isn't Smith. 

I was supposed to be writing, but I worked on this until bed.  It's a huge timesuck, but it's really interesting to see the individual leaves on the ol' family tree.  And hey, if I hadn't done this, I probably would've have known that Hubs is part Hungarian.  Maybe I should make a pot of goulash to celebrate.  LOL

Have you ever researched your heritage?  Find anything interesting?


  1. Oh, could you imagine if if your name was Smith? That would be the longest search of your life!

  2. Did some years and years ago - before Internet, even! Got back to my great, great grandparents on my Dad's side and great, great, great grandparents on my mom's side. You're right, it was really interesting and so very time consuming. My favorite part wasn't so much the leaves, but the individual stories that I would sometimes shake out of the tree. Hmm, I should look back, there might be a plot or two idea for a story.

    Glad you had fun, B.E. - not partial to goulash, but that would be the Hungarian dish, right?