I never could have imagined that what began as a Christmas gift for my grandfather turned into a passion that has been going on for better than 10 years. In fact, when I started my research the only information I had about my family history was that my great, great grandfather emigrated from Ireland to a very small town in West Michigan.
I assumed that when I began my research I wouldn’t find much. Nobody in my family was famous, or “well known”. Also, I vaguely remember another relative attempting to do family research and she came up empty-handed. So, needless to say, I wasn’t that confident I would find any information. However, I could not have been more wrong.
As I reflect upon my experience there are some things I think I did really well and other things which I wish I would have done differently. Perhaps the best decision I made was starting with a genealogist at a local museum. I gave the little old lady all of the information I had and waited two weeks to hear back from her.
Little did I know that most of the information I had about my great, great grandfather was incorrect (even his name). What’s more, the tradition that had been passed down through the family was not correct either. The genealogist gave me a thick folder full of information about who my great, great grandfather was as well as when he arrived in West Michigan.
Armed with accurate information, I signed up for a trial membership on ancestry.com. And once I put in my great, great grandfather’s name the rest was history (pun intended). I remember as I learned about my great, great grandfather’s parents and their context I had this excitement like a child at Christmas time. Each time I clicked on a new relative that excitement would begin percolating again. It turned out that there are 10 generations of McDonald’s that have lived in this country.
Since my initial experience, I have found hundreds of McDonald family members as well as developed relationships with distant cousins who have the same passion for our McDonald Family History.
I have included below a brief list of what I learned from my experience and the method that worked best for me to collect and organize my information.