• Jan Mitchell-McDermott

What I Learned Today: About Weeding


I have a garden, it’s big…really big. I love to garden but got behind this last week as we had a family reunion. I like to weed a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening. Keeps it weed free. One week of no weeding, plenty of water, and tons of sun make for a weed mess.

As I was out trying to reclaim garden order I was thinking this is a lot of work. It’s hard, it is hot, it makes me sweat. It is a bit overwhelming to look at a huge garden full of weeds. I started on one row, then I added another row, and then another. Within a fairly short time with a bit of sweat running down my face, I accomplished it.

Gardening is really not for everyone. Nor is genealogy. Genealogy is hard work. It is time consuming like a nice garden. It really depends on what you hope to have for a finished product on both of these great passions of mine.

When someone asks “Where should I start?”, or “I would like to start in the Western days,” I always say the same thing: “Start with yourself and work back.” I give the same counsel to every single person who asks. If we do not start with ourselves and work back and we use other researcher’s trees and work, we spend years and years weeding out what was not correct. Weeding out false connections, weeding out wrong speculations. Weeding out wrong locations. Weeding out wrong parents, and never really learning by our own research.

Genealogy is really not about going back as fast as you can. It’s about learning your family, their ups, their downs, their success, and their failures. It’s about finding tidbits, sources, documents, pictures and stories of those who have passed on as well as keeping up with the living and all that they do. Genealogy is watching your family grow.

It’s like tackling one row at a time. Pick the family. Weed all the documents you can find; all the sources you can find. Many times one good weed will spread as one good document can spread to a whole new family.

Gardening is not cheap. I could have bought enough food storage for a full year for 10 people what it cost me to get this garden, orchard and berry patches in! Genealogy is not cheap. It would be nice if all of our answers were online free with full images in printable form ready to harvest. It’s just not.

The modern genealogist is use to success online and many times free, but to truly have genealogy success, it costs money. There are websites that have fees. There are courthouses that you must order from. Many times what you need has never been filmed or digitized and is sitting in a small parish in a country far from where you live! Travel costs money; copies costs money, and someone’s time costs money. Gas costs money.

Is it worth it? Heck yes! Just like that garden. We started eating cucumbers yesterday. The blueberries have been amazing as well as the strawberries. I have one almond on a first year tree, just one! Many times that is all it takes for success in genealogy just one new clue, one new document, one new lead.

My son walked out as I was weeding and said “I’m sure glad it’s you doing the weeding.” I smiled and said “I love to weed.” I really do, just like genealogy I love the work that goes into my database. I love to look at an unindexed film and search for that one name, that one date, or that one place. I enjoy the journey of each find. I like to weed out what is right and what is not correct.

What I learned today is, yes, all the hard work is worth it. All the expense is worth it! Whatever our passions are, it’s worth it; it brings joy to our lives as well as others.

#gardening #weeding #genealogy