Here are some interesting things I've found:
- Some history that has been passed down is actually not true. I thought part of my mom's family came to the U.S. from Germany in the 1850's. But I've tracked that branch back to at least 1837. So my mom is apparently misinformed.
- The Census records are amazingly helpful at tracking family members, at least until the 1840 Census. Before that, they only marked the head of household, which makes it much more difficult.
- A lot of my family first/middle names are actually inherited maiden names. I thought my uncle just had a weird spelling of Irwin for his first name, but it turns out that one of my great-great (etc) grandmother's had a maiden name of Erwin.
- One of my ancestors was a slave owner. (Kind of embarrassing, but what can I do?)
- Some of the Census takers had atrocious handwriting. And they all liked to spell people's names whatever damn way they felt like.
So although my family isn't exactly the most savory type of people, at least they're pretty interesting. I'd like to get all these stories written down too -- the tracking of the people is fun, but sharing the juicy stories is the best part!