Genealogy Is Like Climbing A Mountain



Silly Mountain, Az

Over the winter my husband and I traveled to Arizona to have a break from the snow and cold. The area we stay is called Gold Canyon, Arizona and not far from where we stay is Silly Mountain. During our time there I decided to climb Silly Mountain, which only has an elevation of 2139 ft,  but as I’m not a hiker  I thought this was a good place to start. It was hot that day but there was a breeze so it turned out to be a great day to take an afternoon hike. As I hiked up the mountain it made me think that climbing a mountain (even a small one) is like working on your family history.  As you start out you may know a little information; such as your grandparents names and even their birth years and place of birth, which is very much like the beginning of your journey up the mountain. IMG_20160323_150926[1]
You may read some genealogy books or perhaps you’ll take a course and this is similar to finding  a map and making  a decision about what route you will take and how you will approach it and knowing that you should take sun screen, walking poles and water for your trek. 

IMG_20160323_145813[1] As you strike out you are full of energy and ready to take on the mountain and so it is with your family history. You start out with the information you’ve gathered and you are eager to continue to see what other things you can find. So you might get a subscription based online program and stay up all hours of the night or perhaps you’ll head out to the archives.

IMG_20160323_145124[1]As you start the real assent you might think that it might not be as easy as you thought  similar to learning about citing your sources and spend hours winding the reels of film looking for any record that might be about your family. But you push on because you have a plan; you’re going to get to the top of the mountain. With your family history it’s important to have a plan as well. What is it that you are trying to accomplish? Are you trying to prove out that family story or do you want to put it together and write a book?

As you move along the trail you might think, like I did, hmmm I wonder if there are any animals or heaven forbid; rattlesnakes. So you start scanning the ground looking for snakes and making sure that the ground is ok and you aren’t going to slip. So it is also with your family history; you’re careful to ensure that when you find a record you verify that you’ve chosen the right person by checking the details that proves your theory.IMG_20160323_144941[1]

Then a little farther along your route you find a fork in the trail. With each generation you  also come to a fork in the trail. Which side of the family will you continue with? Sometimes you pick the easy path and sometimes unbeknownst to you  you chose the side that  just doesn’t seem to leave any records along the way.

IMG_20160323_150930[1] As I continued up the path I stop at a lookout and realized that I’ve come a long way from the base of the mountain. Similarly with family history;  you start out knowing very little about a person in your family and over time you discover more and more. I know there are times when you think that you haven’t gotten very far until you look back at what you knew in the beginning  and then you realized that you really have come a long way already. You may still have much more to find out but sometime you just don’t realize how much you’ve already learned until you take a moment and look back.

With that knowledge you push on because you’ve decided that your going to get to the top, you’re not going to give up. You climb higher and higher and it gets harder and harder and again this is like your family history as it becomes more and more difficult to find records.


Finally you arrive at the top and you are able to look in every direction and it’s a beautiful sight and you are proud that you stuck to it and didn’t give up. I don’t know what I will feel like when I get my family history done,  as I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like it’s done. There is still so much to find and so many families (mountains)  to work on.

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