Have you ever wanted to take a trip to see where great-grandma grew up? Exploring some Genealogy Travel to relive the memories of life’s easier times, the simplicity great-grandma enjoyed. I sure do, yet it is a lot more complicated than just going and hoping there will be a sign that says great-grandma lived here. She may have actually lived several miles away from the location you heard she lived in or perhaps you thought you could just pop into the records repository in town and do some research?
I wish it was that simple and maybe for some, it is, but genealogy research is a massive quest for documentation about your family lineage that can go back hundreds of years on multiple continents. This is where Genealogy Travel gets exciting and is becoming one of the top tourism venues these days, with just a little research you can find a travel itinerary that includes genealogy research included or is the complete focus of the tour itself. It is big business and it is what I am set to embark upon over the next few years.
Fortunately for me, I have it easier than most with the family bible in my possession plus a previously researched and documented family history produced in 1959 by my great aunt Myrtle House Watson. Myrtle printed a 60-page hardbound genealogy book titled “History and Genealogy of North Carolina Families | House – Barringer – Austin and the Willfords of Georgia | by Myrtle Watson”. A long cherished possession which I have consumed with a rapid renewal of interest the past few months (I will share more details in my next post).
Cabarrus County, North Carolina
My interest in Genealogy Travel was ignited when I was preparing to attend the Travel Media Showcase for travel writers and bloggers last September in North Carolina. I had vaguely remembered that my family was from the Carolinas but I was unclear of exactly where, North or South, I just wasn’t sure. Solution – tear apart the house and find my family genealogy book! TMS (Travel Media Showcase) is held every year in a new location with the specific goal of matching travel writers/bloggers with travel destinations from around the country. This past year TMS was hosted by Cabarrus County, North Carolina.
You can imagine how excited I was when three days before the event I found my family history book and discovered my family was from Cabarrus County, North Carolina! It turns out that I am an 8th generation North Carolina descendant, my family members have lived there for several generations. My grandfather, 8 generations ago came to America in the early 1700’s and served in the Revolutionary War. The House family was well known in the area and lived there for more than four generations.
Just being in the general area of my families roots was a very humbling experience for me and only fired up my resolve to visit again to locate where they lived and discover more about my family. Cabarrus County has so much for me to discover as I pursue my Genealogy Travel of the House Family History as the earliest point of entry for my families history with Germany and beyond as I discover more and more. Keep in mind that this is only one side of my family history, my mothers family comes from Sweden and Italy as I understand things.
Genealogy Travel Game Plan
Currently, I am breaking this down into three pathways with multiple steps involved – Learn the proper way to do genealogy research, perform online research and Travel destination research.
DNA Testing –
For me, the jury is still out on this one. I already know where I am from but my curiosity has caused me to jump on the bandwagon and give this a try. With so many testing kits out there, we’ll see if I made the right choice or not and I plan to test two different kits to see what the results are. My first choice is a kit from HomeDNA.com, their “HomeDNA Collection Kit” states that they “Pinpoint Your Ancestry” by using a powerful algorithm to explain my DNA’s evolution over time. Though this kit does not provide GPS locating as some of the fancier kits claim to do, I should be able to get a fair understanding of where my family originates from, which will provide for some interesting travel opportunities. We’ll see what $59 gets me for a starter kit.
Genealogy research –
There are right ways and wrong ways to do genealogy research and I am consuming as much information on how to properly research family history as I can. Everything from documenting the research, how to safely retain physical materials, proving ancestral relationships, to identifying locations to visit, I want to make sure I have a solid understanding of what I should be doing as opposed to just jumping in.
Online research –
This, I feel, can be a rabbit hole of financial outlay if I am not careful.
There are several sites to explore with online research, here are just a couple I am looking at:
I have already started using Ancestry.com to help me understand how online genealogy research works with their 14-day free trial. It is amazing how much you can discover with just your parent’s information. Just a few hours work and I was discovering relatives I never knew existed. Acestry.com offers three paid monthly tiers to help you do your research and they display it all in a family tree that I find fascinating. I have not tried the other two sites yet but I will explore them in good time.
I’ll be exploring some of the free options as well and have my eye on a couple of interesting books and websites that will help me in my quest.
Travel destinations –
Needless to say, but this is the area that excites me the most and I expect that if you have read this far, it excites you too! As this will vary with everyone, I will highlight a couple of must visits for everyone who is thinking of Genealogy Travel for themselves.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has Family Research Centers across the country for you to visit and research your family history. There is one just a few miles from my home that I intend to visit.
- Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah may well be worth a trip for you to visit. I plan to take Amtrak from Modesto, Ca and visit them very soon to continue my research.
- GenealogyCenter.org in Fort Wayne, Indiana is on my radar for a visit this year. I plan to take advantage of their in-house experts to further my House Family History research.
- Cabarrus County, North Carolina goes almost without saying that I will be visiting soon. I hope to be working with Cabarrus County tourism to put together a trip along with scheduling some time to visit genealogist Ben Callahan, who has extensive knowledge of my family and Cabarrus Country.
- Other family locations include Greely, Colorado (mother), Pennsylvania (mother), Baden, Germany (Father), Switzerland and Italy (mother) and where ever my Genealogy Travel takes me!
So now that you have an idea of my general game plan, I would love to know what you think? Am I approaching this in the right manner? Do you have any tips for me? What have you done or plan to do in the area for Genealogy Travel?
I hope you follow me on my Genealogy Travel quest and find it inspiring enough to start your own!
All posts will be trackable via this hashtag: #HouseFamilyHistory