From an early age, these were things I loved to do: read history and historical fiction, solve puzzles and spend time with my family. When I was growing up, we always had a small bookshelf in the living room with my momís copy of Charles Ross Shultzís The Descendants of Michael Shultz. Mom remembered that when the book was published, her parents received a post card offering the book for sale; since she expressed interest, they bought it for her.
Then, when I was in sixth grade, I received my classís American History award from a DAR chapter. I didnít even know there was such a thing as Daughters of the American Revolution.
I always was a little jealous of my classmates who could say with authority, ďIím Irish,Ē or ďIím half French,Ē or ďIím half Indian.Ē I knew two things only about my ancestry: Grampsís family was probably part Indian, and my dadís grandfather was a first cousin of Abraham Lincolnís. So my interest was there; I just didnít know how to go about finding my own ancestry.
When we were living in Buffalo, in the summer of 1966, I found a library book on genealogy. I read, followed the directions, wrote letters, starting with own four grandparents and my great-grandmother Pedigo. They gave me names and addresses to write more letters. At the end of that summer, as my parents were moving to Kansas City, we went to Oklahoma and drove around visiting aunts, cousins, and graveyards. Gramps answered with the famous-in-the-family letter about me being descended from a monkey. But by the start of college that fall, I had my five-generations chart full.
One memory in particular that stands out is Gramps saying, ďYou know, my grandparents are buried at Clinton.Ē Mom didnít even know that.
Itís now over 40 years later, and this hobby has been a continuing challenge through all these years. I packed my genealogy away when we went to South America as Evangelical missionaries and didnít do much for 15 years or so. This is the time when Ramona and Mom found a great deal on their own. In 1986, after my bout with the Mexico City earthquake, typhoid fever and hepatitis A, I spent most of my recovery time for two or three years writing genealogy letters.
And of course, after we bought our first Macintosh computer in 1988 and the Internet came along soon after, genealogy will never be the same.
Key dates: 1970, I joined the DAR
1987: mom and I went to the DAR Library in Washington DC; finds included Gilbert, Joy, Atwell, and James Alvis in Pike Co MO
1980 or so: On the same day, although residing in different countries and using different sources, Ramona and I found Nancy (Morris) Armstrongís parents.
1992: on my only trip to Salt Lake City, with mom and dad, I found my link to Ashley Alvis and Asa Brooksís birth in Buffalo
1993: Dad joined the Society of Mayflower Descendants
2004: after six weeks of study in the Dickinsons of New England, I deduced David Dickinsonís ancestry
2007: I finally found two more generations back of Armstrongs.
2008: I set up several web sites, including a blog.
Here are some of my favorite websites:
Alvispat's Weblog (http://alvispat.wordpress.com)
Alvis Families (http://alvisfamilies.wordpress.com)