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The Beginning

So, this is Dad and Mom. Ray is the son of Conrad Herrmann and Kate Bundock. He is the step-son of Edith Armstrong and Wally Hewitt. ...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Looking Back and Continuing Ahead

Now that the basics are down, I will look back at my research. I actually started my family journey when I was about 13 years old.  When Grandma Bjorkman (Ragnhild) passed away in 1974,  all of her belongings were brought to Mom and Dad's house.  A lot of boxes were stored in the laundry room and I use to sneak back there and rummage through the boxes; carefully, of course, because it wasn't just papers and documents and pictures. It was also glassware and knick-knacks. I knew I would be in a world of hurt if I broke anything. I also put things back in the same place as I didn't want Mom to know what I was doing.
Anyway, I came across Grandpa Bjorkman's (Hilmar) Memorial Book from when he passed away. Inside this book was a sort of family tree with the names of his parents. Naturally, curiosity got the best of me, but at that time, there was nothing that I knew of to pursue the curiosity.   
A few years later, the miniseries, Roots, aired on television. In our household, we watched what Dad watched on TV. Fortunately, he watched Roots - and so did I. Thus began a lifelong journey into my own roots. 
When Roots aired, an explosion of genealogy hit the country. There were books sold all over the place on how to trace the family tree. Along with these books were "kits" with genealogy forms and resources of where to write for which record, etc. 
So, I saved my babysitting money and bought Gilbert H. Doane's book and kit. I still have original forms from that set.
Of course, being the age I was and the internet not available yet, my research was short-lived. I did write to the National Archives with information on when Grandma Bjorkman arrived in the U.S., but they replied back that they found nothing. I spent, for a time, reading about Sweden and Norway. As far as my paternal line, Dad would not talk about his family at all.  He had his reasons, but it didn't help me with my research at all.  So, my journey was put on hold for several years.