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J W.png This WRG Member is a Descendant of the immigrant John Whitney.

My Whitney Line

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My daughter and I have been doing genealogical research on our family since she completed a Girl Scout badge that asked her to name a mere 4 generations. That was about 1988 when we happened to be living in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Genealogical research became a hobby a teenager and her mother could share. We often went into DC on Saturday to the DAR Library or National Archives. We made the research the focus of our vacations, following her father's family to Ohio and the Carolinas, mine to Ontario, and Nova Scotia. Of course, for the Whitneys we spent quite a bit of time in New England. After a while, whenever we passed a cemetery, my daughter would say, "Now, Mom, who are we looking for here?" even if we weren't stopping.

She worked on her father's family and my mother's. She did sufficient research to get my mother admitted to the DAR which Mom really wanted. In my opinion it was the equivalent of the work done for a master's degree. For myself, I love the puzzle aspect of genealogy. I do various puzzles as part of my morning routine, trying to fend off the memory issues that come with age. And I love mystery novels and TV shows. To me genealogy work is the granddaddy of all puzzles. It draws both on life experience and on any advanced research skills one may have acquired in academia.

My main challenge was cracking the stories of my father's grandparents. My paternal grandparents were both without their own parents' presence at an early age. He was left behind with family by his mother. She lost her mother to cancer and her father was itinerant in his work as a painter. Both were very secretive about the circumstances. Eventually I was able to crack both lines. Some of it was fairly sordid but we are all human. Sexual irresponsibility is hardly a modern invention. When my daughter and I eventually went separate ways and returned to the west coast in 1992, we discontinued our efforts, having generally exhausted the possibilities.

My father had left when I was less than a year old. I sent him my findings, including the information on his parent's parents, our surname line back to the water's edge and another line that runs to four passengers on the Mayflower, including one who had previously been at Jamestown, Virginia. He never gave me a family but I gave him one.

My daughter and I are now together again and from time to time we resume genealogical work. She has been working on new lines of ancestry for her daughter. I have taken up with all of my ancestry, including the descendants of my stepfather, Art Watts.

What I really can't get over is the fact that I used to drive long distances, sit long hours in uncomfortable chairs and take rolls of microfilm to cranky copier machines that only produced nearly illegible wet copy. Meals were difficult to obtain. We used to push on til closing time even if our brains were fried because we were miles from home and might not ever be able to return. Now I can work at my own desk in my bathrobe at 4 am with fresh coffee at hand and print legible copy off my computer. I can nap when I please. I can compose a relatively full record on a minor relative in an hour and see documents I never imagined. I can add my documents and pictures to the material others can search. Fantastic. So I am reviewing all my lines. Surprisingly, I already had the basics in most cases but some new information has come and others stories been filled out. Can one thank the internet? I don't know how. But I do thank the founders of the Whitney Research Group.

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