When I was in my 30’s and 40’s, my father and his older sister worked on their family tree. At that time, I wasn’t all that interested. They gave me several thick notebooks filled with pages of the family tree. I looked through them from time to time, but the names and dates didn’t mean much to me back then.

My father and aunt may have used the internet for some of their research, but much of it was from interviewing family members. I remember them saying they were sure they had Cherokee blood in the family, but they weren’t ever able to prove it. They did find some supposed royalty way back in time. But finding more information about people who lived in the 1400’s and 1500’s is awfully hard.

Now, after writing several novels (my Tangled Roots series) about two brothers searching for their ancestors, guess what? I took a DNA test a year ago and now consider myself an amateur genealogist. I think my father would be pleased. If he were still alive, I’m sure we would be collaborating. I’m still learning, but I have already taken the family tree my father and aunt built and added much, much more to their side of the tree.

I thought that finding information about my German mother’s ancestry was a lost cause, but I gave it a try. I started with photocopies of some old Ahnenpass Identity cards from WW2 that were handwritten in the old Sutterlin script. That’s extremely difficult to read, and I had to study how to do that, first. From there, I began finding more names and built her part of the tree.

I just wish I’d been more interested in genealogy back when my father and aunt were still alive. Back when many of my family members were still around to tell their stories. I wish my German aunts and Uncles could speak English or I could speak enough German, so I might be able to find out more of their stories. Unfortunately, I do not have any diaries or journals written by ancestors. I don’t even have many photos. I have to rely on old documents I can find on genealogy websites, other peoples’ online family trees, and hints provided by Ancestry, MyHeritage, and other genealogy websites.

My sister and I recently became fascinated with several fairly recent ancestors, and we worked together to dig up as much of their stories as we could. But that’s not easy, since these ancestors weren’t famous. Just ordinary people. Their stories, though, are interesting and make us want to learn more. They are mysteries, for sure, as are many of the people in our past. We’ll keep digging up those roots, bit by bit.

As an avid reader of mystery novels and a writer of mysteries, it’s probably inevitable that I would get caught up in the fast-growing hobby of genealogy, because tracing ones ancestors is an intriguing mystery that anyone can strive to solve.