Genealogical seminar to help amateur sleuths solve family tree mysteries

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — Finding your way around your family tree is like a good mystery. You never know exactly where it will branch out or who you will find.

When Shirley Shaw began researching her father’s side of the tree, she started with just his name and that he lived in Illinois. But after gathering information and chasing leads, Shaw found herself on the shores of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland about 300 years ago.

Along they way, she met distant relatives such as Daniel Boone and Benjamin Franklin.

“It was amazing because we always thought my father’s family came to this country in the 1800s, but they actually settled here from almost the beginning (of the country),” she said. “Genealogy research is so exciting because it opens so many doors.”[box]IF YOU GO
WHAT: Kingsland Genealogical Society’s genealogical seminar
WHEN: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Aug. 24
WHERE: Marble Falls Church of Christ, 711 Broadway
COST: $30 per person
FOR MORE: Email kingslandgenealogicalsociety@gmail.com or call Shirley Shaw at (830) 385-7070[/box]

But getting started or knowing where to go for information and what to do with it can be a bit overwhelming. The Kingsland Genealogical Society holds monthly meetings 2 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at the Kingsland Branch Library, 125 W. Polk St. in Kingsland. It’s a great place to start, but sometimes it’s more helpful to get a boost from an internationally recognized expert in genealogy.

On Aug. 24, at the Marble Falls Church of Christ, 711 Broadway, the Kingsland Genealogical Society is doing just that when it brings in Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck for a genealogical seminar from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“He has just about every designation you can get in genealogy,” Shaw said.

Bockstruck, a senior ranking faculty member at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Alabama, retired in 2010 from the Dallas Public Library, where he served as manager of the genealogy section.

“He retired from the library,” Shaw said, “but he didn’t retire from genealogy.”

Bockstruck will bring years of experience and knowledge to the seminar. While there are many great resources on the Internet nowadays, Shaw said those only take you so far and real research comes down to looking at the actual records in the states or the communities where your family lived.

Those records, however, can be hard to understand. That’s where experts such as Bockstruck can help.

“He’s going to talk about the early American migration routes and many other topics,” Shaw said. “He’ll discuss where to find information, how to find it and what to do with it.”

His knowledge of the early American migrations, settlements and behaviors and traditions during those times can really help family researches connect the dots. The journey through one’s family history can be difficult, as people move, names change and information seems to disappear.

But as the mystery deepens, so do the rewards.

Shaw said tracing family roots based on names can get confusing.

“For instance, if a family started in New York and ended up in Texas, that name may be totally different simply because of the different dialects or how people pronounced it,” she said. “It’s like when you were in school and you played the game where the teacher whispered something in one child’s ear and then it went from one to the other.

“By the time it went through 20 people, the message wasn’t anything like when it started,” Shaw said.

Even if you find information at a courthouse or somewhere else, it might not be as it appears because of laws, community mores and traditions at the time. So a bit of guidance or knowledge about the era helps, Shaw said.

“Then, you just keep digging and digging, and one thing leads to another,” she said. “And what makes it so interesting is it’s your relatives.”

The cost of the seminar is $30 per person and includes a light lunch. Officials recommend registering in advance because of limited seating. People can pick up registration forms at the Marble Falls Visitors Center, 100 Ave. G, or from a Kingsland Genealogical Society member. For more information, email the society at kingslandgenealogicalsociety@gmail.com or call Shaw at (830) 385-7070.

daniel@thepicayune.com