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Website Offers Insight Into Family Histories

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(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

John Shumway John Shumway
John Shumway joined KDKA-TV in October 1988 as a General Assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -If you have ever wondered about your family’s history and heritage, there is a website out there that can provide some answers.

Edie Kennedy recently gazed hopefully into the glow of a computer screen with so many questions.

“Once you find one thing, it’s like, ‘Whoa, what else can I find?’” Kennedy said.

“There is this innate desire to know who we are and to know our heritage,” Anastasia Harman with Ancestry.com said.

Which is why Kennedy turned to Ancestry.com.

Her mother died when she was only 17-months-old. So, with the blessing of her step-mother, she put in the basics about herself, her father and what she knew of her mother.

The more you know the better before you search because Ancestry.com has every Census from 1930 going back to 1790.

They also have school year books, military records and birth and death records, from North America, parts of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and China.

“We have eight billion historical records,” Harman said.

From that treasure trove of history, the veil over Kennedy’s past started to lift.

“I found that I had an aunt Catherine that I never knew about,” Kennedy said.

With every addition to the tree on her computer screen came waving green leaves.

“These are hints saying we’ve searched through those eight billion historical records to see if there is any match for the people you have entered and we found some,” Harman said.

“I never knew my grandmother had a total of five siblings. I thought there were two. I have a bunch of relatives in Somerset, Pa. that I never knew about,” Kennedy said.

The search turns up much more than just names and dates.

“In the 1910 Census, my great-grandfather, Carlos, it says he was a sculptor,” Kennedy said.

Like so many who use Ancestry’s database, Kennedy has identified the first relatives to arrive on American shores.

“More than 12 million immigrants came through Ellis Island and on Ancestry.com, we have ships’ passengers list for all of those people who came through that island,” Harman said.

Through those records, the curtain to the old world, which was closed by time, is pulled back.

“I can go to my great-great-grandparents in Italy. I can go to my great-great-grandparents of German decent,” Kennedy said.

The Russian branch remains a bit elusive.

“When you look up the Romanoffs, you get the czar’s family,” Kennedy said.

With the Russian quest on hold, Kennedy has been taking the information she’s been getting and contacting newly-found relatives.

“I found my mother’s aunt Lucille that I never knew about,” Kennedy said.

It turns out that aunt Lucille was a photographer. A trip to see the current generation of aunt Lucille’s family in Illinois turned out to be priceless, as they presented her with pictures.

“I’d never seen a picture of my grandmother Edith before,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy is far from done and she is using Ancestry.com to explore the European branches of her family tree, while cherishing the nuggets she has already found.

One of those treasures is the snapshot of her mother and father taken eight years before she was born.

“It’s really neat because I didn’t know anything and now I know my family history somewhat, and I just didn’t want my children to have the questions that I did,” Kennedy said.

RELATED LINKS

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Ancestry.com.

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