Sunday, July 10, 2011

In The Beginning

Everything has a beginning, but we don't always know where to start!
This is my first post for my genealogy blog. I have an idea where to start, I'm just not sure what will be next or where it will go or how I will organize things and all those details. Sounds kind of like my research!
A couple different things in my life planted the seed of curiosity to find out where and who I came from.

 I remember, vaguely, when I was in middle school (or somewhere in that time frame, could have been sooner, could have been later) a teacher gave us that homework assignment. You know the one, where they have you go home and ask a parent or grandparent about your family history. She didn't ask us to do a family tree or anything detailed, just to ask about what our heritage was, ethnically. So I asked my grandma, my mom's mom. I will never claim to have perfect memory, but some things stuck in my mind. She rattled off a list longer than I expected, and she never specified which side(s) of the family she was referring to. I was too young to ask too. I remember she said Dutch (thinking she meant on my dad's side. With a name like Van Orden, we pretty much knew that already), she also mentioned Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and I'm not sure what else, but I remember she said Sioux Indian. I wish Grandma was still here so I could ask her more questions and share with her things I'm sure she did not know. But I was young, then, and must have thought Grandma would live forever.
 Through the years I'd hear about family trees, and people talk about famous relatives, or going back to the countries of their origin. A mini series on tv came out, Roots but I was too young to really watch it and absorb it, but I felt the heat of the fire it had ignited in our society to search for ancestors and the truth, however difficult it was. I had seen the satisfaction others felt from finding out where and who they came from, and discovering the stories of their family's past.
  Fast forward to about 8 years ago. By this time I have gotten married and had 4 kids. All four of my boys were in boy scouts, and we were having a yard sale at a church to raise funds for the troop. As I was inside and my husband had stepped outside. While outside he began talking to a young lady as she was doing some yard work for the church. They talked for a few minutes then they shared names. All I know is that I was standing there folding clothes and my husband came in and told me (quite excitedly), "come outside, there is someone you need to meet". I was confused, but went along. Once outside he introduced us. First he told her my name, then he told me her name, and her last name was Van Orden! I was shocked! I had never met another Van Orden before except my immediate family and my dad's brother. We were the only family with that name where I grew up in Kansas (I now live in Kentucky). She was equally curious, and the questions poured. Turned out her family moved here from New Jersey, where my dad was born and raised, and where two of my siblings were born. In fact they came from the city one of my siblings was born in. We swapped some names and info then she had to finish her work.
 When I got home I called my dad and asked him if any of those names she told me sounded familiar. They didn't ring a bell at all. But he knew someone else in the family he could ask and let me know.
The seed that had been planted years before, was sprouting. It was time to learn how to search for the answers I had racing through my mind.
 I am now at a point where I am not sure which way to go next. So bear with me, I have a few years worth of research to go back over, on both my mom's and my dad's side, and even in my husband's tree. I have filled in many blanks already, and I have discovered some interesting and exciting stories. I have family members who are curious about what I have found, and I am hoping this is a way to help them understand what can be a very confusing topic. I still have many blanks left on my charts I hope to fill, and that is another reason for doing this blog, some of those blanks aren't so easy to get names into. I have found some blogs out there that has helped me. Who knows who may stumble across this and contact me. I have already found quite a few 'cousins' along the way, and it is such an exciting element that breaths life and more truth into what can be a dull and endless stream of names, dates and places.

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