In Hispanic countries, women do not change their surnames. Throughout their lives, they carry their father’s name first, and their mother’s last name second. I loved hearing the surnames attached to my family members….Rios, Santiago, Del Rio, Ramos, Cardona, Viruet, Robles, Morales…and so on.
I started with my parents. I interviewed my mom on her family history. She was so flattered over that! I committed every detail to memory. I called my dad and asked him the same questions. It was fun hearing the gears turning in his brain as he thought back to his grandparents and where they were from.
Happily, I added the names of my great-grandparents to my family tree. Too soon, unfortunately, I ran into roadblocks. Ancestry.com was my next stop. There, I learned how to search records for the answers I needed. It is still a work in progress, but it is a fun one.
As a writer, I am intrigued. Genealogy is an exciting, historical story where the places, stories, and protagonists change - and everything leads to you.
I’ve not stopped at my own tree; I planted one for my beloved, where the lowest, most precious branch is that of our son. To his fortune (and my amusement), I’ve found branches that go extend from the mid-Atlantic United States to England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and France.
The research isn’t always easy; the further back you go, the harder it is to find records. Still, the search is worth it. When you connect with someone new, it is magical - a magical link that goes across space and time to connect you to someone who is directly responsible for your existence.
So, take a chance. Get a notebook, a pencil, and your cell phone. Call your mom, your dad, your aunts and your uncles and talk to them about their past. Be prepared to find out amazing and exciting things about your family and yourself. You won’t be sorry.
- Your oldest living relatives are the best place to start. Talk to them! Ask them questions. Write the answers down.
- Ancestry.com is the go-to place for most genealogists. They have so much information. (But you do have to pay for a subscription to it. If you cannot afford it, most public libraries give you access to that for free.)
- Consult the state archives for records. Some are free, but most are not.
- DNA testing websites are a great place to go to find connections, too. (Prices start at $99).