Canadian Great War Project
Lifespan of CDs - shorter than you might think

The Genealogy Happy Dance

We've all experienced it. We've all had a taste of it. It's what keeps us going when we discover yet another "brick wall."

The "genealogy happy dance" comes in different forms. You'll notice it in libraries, when all of a sudden, an audible "YES!" is heard by everyone. It happens in homes, late at night - you really want to call friends and family to tell them. It even happens at genealogy conferences - the instructor mentioned something that finally made everything make sense.

I remember my first very "happy dance." I was in a university library looking at a microfilmed newspaper. It was the first time I had searched for an obituary. When I found it, I could only stand up about half-way because the microfilm reader's lens colided with my head as I jumped up in excitement.

Last night I had another "genealogy happy dance" as I located my wife's ancestor in the 1891 census - her great-grandfather was listed as a child, along with his father AND his grandfather. I was all alone - nobody to share it with.

These happy dances really do lift our spirits when we've worked so hard, and have stumbled so many times. Think back to your first major discovery - what was it like? Did you get hurt (hitting your head on the ceiling)? Did you wake up your family? Did it startle the other library patrons?

We'd like to hear about it. Share your "genealogy happy dance" with us in the comments section below.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I was just getting started in genealogy and had about eight names of ancestors. Late one evening at home, I finally located the maiden name of my great-grandfather's mother on Family Search. Then I discovered I kept finding the names of more and more of her ancestors. The printer was rolling and at two am, my husband wandered in and asked what I was still doing up at that hour. I answered, "I can't go to bed, I'm still finding mothers and fathers."

Being a beginner, little did I realize I was now committed to about a million more hours of work to prove or disprove all I found.

Everytime I find a long-sought after ancestor, I still get that "rush of dopamine." No wonder we get addicted!

My first happy dance, and I have realy had 2, came when I could trace my maternal grandmother's family back to 1490 in England. Yes, it's a direct line!!!
My second came when I found my great great grandfather (paternal) on the Ellis Island site. He immigrated in 1893 from the Netherlands.

My first "happy dance" was a flood of happy tears!!! I had been searching for information on my maternal great-grandfather for about a year. My mother and grandmother (now both deceased) had been searching for decades!! He left the family in the early 1920s, leaving his wife and two boys. No one knows why he left. It was one of those things that "wasn't discussed." Thankfully I had his name, where he was born and approximate date of birth. One day I decided subscribe to a newspaper close to his hometown that had been in business since 1890s. I paid for a one-week subscription so I would be able to access the archives. I found plenty of what I thought was his family, but could not be sure. The surname is Jackson and there were plenty of Jacksons to sort through. Finally on the morning of the last day of my subscription (right be fore leaving for church) I found IT!! I found his obituary which listed his sons and that was the link I needed. I could hardly believe it. I ended up leaving church early because I just could not wait to call my aunt with the information. We cried together wishing that my mom and grandmother were here to celebrate with us.

My "happy dance" came today through the efforts of myself and other wonderful genealogists. My family lore said my GG-Grandfather left the family and disappeared in Chicago. The family had him "declared dead" in the early 1930's and my GG-Grandmother remarried. I was trying to verify the information and instead "debunked" the story! He really did leave the family but he moved less than 100 miles away, remarried and didn't die until 1954! One "happy dance" leads to more questions.

I've had a great many happy dances, but the first one was memorable for my whole family. I hadn't been researching my family history for more than a few months and the whole family was together at my grandmother's for a holiday. When I started drilling everyone my grandma laughed and told me to go up to her room and open the big trunk next to the window. Two hours later I danced all the way down the stairs with birth certificates, new clippings from the early 1900s and personal letters from Germany squealing the whole time (much to the dismay of my family who were beginning to worry)!

It turns out that my great grandmother and great aunt had picked up the genealogy bug from their mother and it skipped a generation to find me. Although my grandma didn't record anything, she added to the trunk from the time it came into her possession at her mother-in-law's passing. She said she didn't have the paitence to do it, but hoped someone else would.

A couple of years ago when she passed away, she left explicit instructions that the trunk and everything in it were to be given to me and that I was to keep the tradition alive. Besides my wonderfully understanding husband and our beautiful children, I have never been given a gift I treasure more than my "treasure chest".

Four years ago I knew nothing about my fathers family who had come from Sweden. I had heard only scraps of information and only knew their American names. With the help of a Swedish librarian at our genealogy library my brother & I ordered Parish records from Sweden from the LDS microfilms. Little did I know that they would be in Swedish and so big. We was instructed to go down every page and look for my great grandfathers birth date which is all I knew about him. My first dance was when we found him and his entire family on that microfilm. My brother and I were at the microfilm machines reading 2 seperate rolls and we both did the dance. I was embarrassed but the librarian said that is OK we love to see that little dance.

The last dance was at the same library a month ago and I had to really restrain myself. My GG grnadfather had been buried in my home town cemetery in 1909. For many years my father looked for his grave with no luck and the old cemetery records had been lost. My brother, my cousin and I continued the search after Dad's death to no avail.

My cousin was given the title of a 16 volume book that gave the names of many tombstone inscriptions in Joplin. I found the volumes in my library. I did not think that I would find him because we had been told there was no tombstone. Imagine my joy when I found his name along with the exact location of his grave in the last volume I had looked in. It is the most exciting thing we have found. When I called my cousin and brother an hour later we all did the dance together.

The dance continued on Memorial Day when I was able to go to his grave and put flowers on it for the very first time and take pictures for my brother and cousin. The cemetery dept in Joplin had put a marker on the grave so we could find it easier. I could hardly wait for my cousin to stop the car. I did a happy dance on the road in front of his grave much to the shock of my cousins who are on my mothers side of the family.

I don't remember when my feet finally touched the ground, but I know I experienced a non-stop mental 'cha cha cha' all the way home from the Library after I single handedly made the most important discovery to my family history ever. IGI records listed my illusive ancestor as born 1646 in of all places...Barbados. No other researcher to date had ever known for certain where he had been prior to his appearance in New England about 1678. My discovery not only proved for the very first time that we were not the descendants of someone's imaginary German Count (which I never believed anyway), but rather that we were of English origins as I had suspected all along. I now had the link I needed.

I've had several "Happy dances" but the latest was one I had been waiting for for years. I knew my GGrandfather from Ireland had came to America and married and had 4 children by his 1st wife but I could never find her name or record of them anywhere until I found him in 1880 with his 2nd wife and family. Then out of the blue a few months ago I contacted a 2nd cousin and Lo and Behold she had been given the name of the first wife several years back from a lady who had been taking care of one of the daughters from that 1st marriage. She had seen it in the old family Bible and at the funeral told it to my cousin and promised she would get the Bible to her. Sadly this never did happen. By going to my City Library and looking in their index that they had made of the 1870 Kansas state census I found my GGrandparents names and was able to make a copy of the census record. I was unable to find them on the internet searches because the writing was so bad on the census record that they were not listed when I put in their names. I was so excited to actually see her name in print and to finally prove that she really did exsist that I did my happy dance. My husband had to remind me where I was, but the librarian just smiled. I just love this stuff!!

While searching for information about my deceased father-in-law Felix Gutowski, I found a WWI Draft registration card for that name. My wife was in another part of the house so I made a copy of the document and went to find her. I did not know if this was the Gutowski I was searching for. I asked her if she could remmber her father's signature. "Yes of course!" was the answer. So I showed her the copy of the registration ans she said that that was her father's signature on the form. She then said after looking at the whole document that she did not know her father had a middle name. So we now had a secret reveled to her. Felix JOSEPH Gutowski. What a rush that was for the both of us.

My biggest dance came several years ago when I started search for information on my maternal grandfather. My family were "non-talkers" about any of my mother's side of the family.I only knew that her father had come from a small island off the west coast of Norway (of which there are 1000's) I had managed to get the death certificate and found a farm name and researching that found it was a rather unique one. From there we located a farm. On line I located the chamber of commerce to the closest town and asked if there were still any relatives related to Erik Erickson(talk about a common name) living on this farm. Less than 24 hours later I had an answer from the individual that monitored the website. Translated roughly "oh yes, and I'm running down the street to give it to them". End result was that last year I went back to Norway and visited many of my long lost relatives. It was a celebration for all as it seems I was the "first relative" to return in over 100 years. There are now 15 people living on the island today.

My first really "happy dance" happened on March 29 th 2006! Waugh... I still remember how the hairs at my arms raised. The goal was to find out where my 3 * great grandfather was born. Several of the really good guys had been looking for his origin, and I was almost sure, that when they could not do it I could not do it eigter! But on that date I recieved an e-mail from a friend working at the local archieve - with as much evidence as needed. Another brick in the wall...

I was happpy for days!


Being a skeptic by nature, I suppose, is what keeps me from actually having a happy dance. I had always heard that my great-great grandfather was married and had six sons. Then his wife died. He remarried and had six daughters. I had been searching for evidence of this for so long that I had come to think of it as just a family legend. So many of Dad's memories had turned out to be false, after all. So when a record finally came up on the microfilm I was scrolling through, with the father's name, the second wife's name, older sons who fit the timeframe and younger daughters, I just stared numbly at it. Nah ... must be someone else. Hmmmm ... looks right, though. Check that name there with the one I have ... Nah .... yes ... yes? YEAH! Really? Yes! Yes, yes, yes! And the happiness just welled up in my chest, 'cause I'm still too much of a douting Thomas to jump up and down about it. My latest happy time came from a friend who researched and entered into Legacy for me more information than I've managed to glean in 40 years. No, you didn't really do that -- you're just kidding me. You did? Really? Can you have a happy dance while almost crying that someone would do that for you?

Having traced the ancient Carpenter Family Paternal Roots back to
Gosselin I de Bassigny 810
...... 2 Hugo or Hugues I Bassigny 835 -
............... 3 Hugues II de Bassigny 860 and further back to the Capet Kings.
I lost the Paternal line in 1819. Charles Carpenter birth certificate no Fathers name
I decided to post my DNA on the Web in 2003 in 2008, a match was found to another ancient family, the paper trail of both Families’ showed who could have been the paternal link a Bond was found, 25 years of research completed. Now the question arises is my family due for a name change? At the age of 80 years happy dancing is out but a sigh of satifation was allowed..

I've been lucky to have several Happy Dances, but of course some bigger than others. On my mom's side, her Gr-grandfather Willis Washington Jones married Martha Ellen Smith, so most of the Happy Dances have revolved around ACTUALLY locating information about one or the other of this couple. 1. With my mom sitting beside me we located Martha Ellen Smith on the census at the library. (this was before on-line census!) What? She was a twin? You never said that before, Mom! 2. I found information in a county history book about Martha Ellen's brother, which also included Martha Ellen's parents, Charles and Virginia Hawley Smith and her grandparents' Calvin and ? Smith. And I was able to verify that they were indeed the right people. Woo hoo! Another Happy Dance! 3. I made a phone call to the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center (museum) and asked to talk to a volunteer and I had spoken to before. When she was not there that day, I almost hung up, but didn't. The genealogy angels were smiling! When I told this volunteer who I was looking for, she was quiet for a few heartbeats, and then she said "Charles and Virginia Hawley Smith are my great-grandparents, too!" And I replied "Hello, cousin!" Too Long of a story short, we went to Kentucky, met her, and she gave us a photograph of mom's great-grandparents! You can read more about this story at my blog at familytreewriter(dot)com.

The comments to this entry are closed.