PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Utah)- The quest to find out one's last is a global sensation. More than two-million people have accounts with Provo-based Ancestry.com. With everyone finding out their family trees, I decided it was time to dig deeper into my own roots. In Part One of our series with Ancestry.com, we explain how to get started. I sit down with the matriarch of my maternal family who started looking into our family tree decades ago.
"It's almost universal; this desire to know who we are and where we came from," said Ancestry.com Family Historian Michelle Ercanbrack.
But how do you get started? Simple, talk to your family. Then head online to Ancestry.com and stat plugging in information on your family tree.
"What ancestry does is goes and takes those names and dates and relationships that you put in that tree and behind the scenes we will look for clues or different documents and clues and hints to make getting started and find that first document, that much easier," said Ercanbrack.
Ancestry.com's corporate headquarters in Provo, houses its document digitization room. The global site enters two-million documents like birth certificates, military records, and yearbooks each day.
"There are so many people who are just seeking truth," said Ercanbrack.
One of the easiest documents to find is the census. It's a snaps joy from the past to help rattle your grandparent's memories.
"Show it to them and say hey! This is a record of you as a child and you had these siblings living with you. And did you know your dad was an insurance salesman at the time? Start throwing out little pieces of information that'll jog their memory and you'll get stuff that you've never heard before," said Ercanbrack.
I started my own journey with step one by talking to my grandmother, Carolyn Lowery-Hyser. She's in Illinois so I interviewed my Granny on Skype.
"Well as a child I've always been interested in our family history," said Nadia Crow's grandmother, Carolyn Lowery-Hyser.
My grandmother is one of six siblings born to Thomas Nichols, Jr and Lucille Hunt.
"Whenever they were talking about their parents I was always right there listening, picking up information. It was always something I wanted to know more about," Lowery-Hyser.
And in the 1990s, she logged onto Ancestry.com to find out more. My great-great-grandfather Thomas Nichols, Sr. And his wife Emma Murphy lived in Mississippi in the early 1900s.
"They said because he married this woman, a German woman, who was mulatto or full white. And whenever they saw them together there were a lot of concerns about it," said Lowery-Hyser.
Relatives say they fled their home because of death threats. Family historian Michelle Ercanbrack is hot on the fading trail.
"There are real gaps in document creation especially for African Americans or descendants of the Holocaust where records weren't created or were destroyed," said Ercanbrack.
While it can be difficult, more documents are rolling into their archives each day. Each document can piece together the puzzles of the past. Maybe due diligence might answer some of the questions lingering for generations.
"I really want to know where exactly my grandfather came from and where exactly my grandmother came from. That, we don't know," said Lowery-Hyser.
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