Tracking the Past

My Grandfather’s Grandparents, right, and (I think) his aunt and uncle

I recently found a new hobby.  Okay, actually, it’s a new obsession.  I have begun tracking my family tree.  I have always wanted to do this, but felt I didn’t have the time.  In fact, I don’t have any extra time, but I decided it was a more productive use of the time between when my children are tucked into bed and when they are actually asleep.  I have always heard that I am related to several famous people.  it has been interesting trying to track them, as family trees often only trace the direct line to a famous person, and leave out brothers and sisters.  Some connections are hard to find.

I don’t know if W. Goodall was a relative, but he sure was handsome!

I have some copies of old photographs of my family, and they have been very useful in putting an actual face to a name.  There are also some photos of people whose names were not noted in the old album my parents had.  I am not sure if we are related to them or not, but I love the old styles and the great sepiatone images of people from a bygone era.  When I began pursuing a degree in library science, this is what I wanted to do: preserve history for future generations.  Right now, I am researching and preserving family history for my children, and future generations as well.

My Great-Grandfather

I am most intrigued by my Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Middleton Purcell.  I have been unable to discover which of the many, many Elizabeth Middletons born in the UK in 1870 is the right one, so I cannot trace her parents.  I have some family members I mean to check with.  It just seems weird to call someone out of the blue and say “Hello! You haven’t seen me since I was a kid, but I want you to tell me about a woman I never met.”  The thing is, from every picture I have seen of Elizabeth Middleton Purcell, I look very much like her.  That makes the desire to know more about her even stronger.

My Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Middleton Purcell

It has been amazing hunting through old records.  I signed up for a membership at, and I have been searching through all of the scans.  I knew my Grandfather’s WWI draft card registration was for the right person because the auburn hair and grey eyes (like mine!) were listed. While I knew that we had a WWII hero in our line, and that we are related to some famous people, I did not realize how hard it would be to trace some of the lines I wanted to research.  I am supposed to have Mayflower lines on both sides, to be related to two US presidents, and a famous English composer. It is beginning to look like we might also be a distant cousin of one of my favorite Romantic poets. I spend so much time thinking about how I can uncover more, where I might find more verification!

And, I have to tell you, it is a thrill to suddenly find hat missing link that connects you to another chain of ancestors!  I was stuck around 1800 for two weeks before I had a breakthrough that took me on an exciting ride back to the fifteenth century!  How much past can I uncover? I have only just begun my journey!


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