Last weekend, we laid our hands on history at Philip Foster Farm, a national historic homestead near the end of the Oregon Trail. Years ago, weary pioneers stopped here to rest in cabins and revel in a luscious smorgasbord of mouth-watering foods after months of perilous travel. The oldest Lilac in Oregon flourishes here, planted in front of a quaint and welcoming farmhouse, surrounded by a charming white picket fence. As we sipped on homemade lavender lemonade, we wandered through the rustic 1860’s barn, learning how to grind corn in an old-fashioned grinder and how to cut wood on a crosscut saw. The sound of traditional folk music warmed our spirits as we peeked inside an old covered wagon, imagining what it was like to leave everything behind and set forth on a western-bound expedition into an unfamiliar landscape.
Lately, I have been researching my family history. Finding out who my ancestors are has been an exciting experience for both my family and me. Here are a few tips on how to research your own family history:
Ask members of your family for information on your ancestors, including names (middle names and maiden names too), birth dates, death dates, birth places, and places lived. I found it easiest to start with myself and then work my way up the family tree. Ancestry.com makes it easy to build your family tree and save documents to your ancestors, keeping all of your information organized.
Try using different search methods. For example, if you have finished searching for information using someone’s first and last name (John Doe), try then using the initial of their first name followed by their last name (J. Doe) in a search.
Ask family members if you can make copies of or scan photographs of your ancestors. Now that you are finding out who your ancestors are, looking at photographs of people you now know something about will provide you with a better sense of connection.
Did you know?
The Oregon Trail is the longest of the overland routes used in the westward expansion of the United States. It is about 2,000 miles long, beginning in Missouri and ending in Oregon.