Mary Mettler is finally back from her genealogy trek across the country.
Read the entire series:
I am home! What a wonderful summer! A genealogy friend just asked me if she should go on a trip like mine for her 70th birthday. YES! Naturally, I have some last thoughts about the trip.
The most important task is to plan, plan, plan and then plan some more. I spent about six months planning my trip. Try not to attempt too much, and do limit the lines you will investigate. Then, locate and research the web sites of the historical societies and libraries in the locations where these ancestors lived. Join the local historical societies ahead of time and ask them for any special information or assistance you need. Many of the smaller historical societies have limited hours, so planning and contact is essential. Often, they will open up for out-of-town travelers, if you contact them ahead of time. I was thrilled to work with these local volunteers and/or historical society members to find the special treasures of my ancestors. The historical societies appreciate any donations you can make, too. In the summer, advance reservations for lodging are essential in the small towns, especially in Vermont with its limited tourist season. I wish I had had more time in most of the towns, but I always feel that way after a genealogy trip! Since you can't spend three solid months researching without a total brain meltdown, do plan on attending some family functions, visiting friends and/or sightseeing in between genealogy stops. I also enjoyed beginning and ending my trip at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
I highly recommend that you take your car, as life is much easier. You need room for files and all the “goodies” you will find, as well as clothes and all your technical gear. I did some Christmas shopping for real Vermont maple syrup and Wyoming huckleberry jam. The car also gives you the ability to travel to the small towns, which are not close to a major airport. I tried to leave sufficient time for them, as I could return later to those near major airports. One final word of warning – do not take Route 95 across the George Washington Bridge on a sunny, summer Sunday afternoon! In fact, try not to take Route 95 ever! I will never complain about the Bay Bridge traffic again!
Just for fun, I thought I'd list some of my favorites and my disappointments. My biggest disappointment was that so few places allowed me to use my scanner. I think we, genealogists have to campaign to change this. I certainly understand that the libraries/historical societies need the revenues from copying, and I do not mind paying for each page I scan. The scanner is no worse than a copier, as far as the light is concerned; and it is easier on books than copy machines, with the possible exception of the “book minder” copiers. I did use my camera for some documents, but the scanner is much better.
Since I couldn't use my scanner very often, my favorite “toy” was my GPS. I wish I had purchased one of these a long time ago. I call mine “Jill,” as that was the voice choice I liked. Jill plotted the route, estimated my time of arrival and showed me the nearest lodging, restaurants, drug stores, movie theaters, etc. The GPS takes the stress out of driving, especially for someone as directionally disadvantaged as I am! I enjoyed Bed and Breakfast lodging the most, especially when they were near the historical societies. In Suffield, Connecticut, I stayed at The Lily House across the street from the Kent Memorial Library. In Dorset, Vermont, The Dovetail Inn Bed and Breakfast is across from the Dorset Historical Society. Both these wonderful B&B’s are within walking distance of restaurants, banks and grocery stores. My favorite breakfast was at the Victorian Bed and Breakfast in Rock Island, Illinois, while my best dinner was at the Drunken Noodle Thai restaurant in Essex Junction, Vermont. Both of these compare very favorably with San Francisco’s best!
Well, I could go on and on! I would be happy to hear from any of you, who might want to make a similar trip. I won't be going off again for a while, as I have to deal with a file box full of my research. Analyzing this information, copying it for my nephew and second cousin-once-removed, filing it in the family file folders and entering it in my computer will take a long time!
I am looking forward to reading the future blogs of your trips!
Part One: Salt Lake City
Part Two: Indiana
Part Three: Pennsylvania
Part Four: More From Pennsylvania
Part Five: Washington D.C.
Part Six: Suffield, Connecticut
Part Seven: Vermont
Part Eight: Dorset, Vermont
Part Nine: West Point and Back to Pennsylvania
Part Ten: Some Final Thoughts From Home