May 1, 2013 – How I got Interested in Genealogy: The High Family (1726-2007) Second Edition

Although the first family chronicle I wrote, High Family 1726-2006: First Edition, included a decent amount of information, it was quite lacking as a comprehensive guide to High Family history. The book had numerous errors (both factual and grammatical), needed pictures of several relatives, and I only considered it a “first draft” of a family history. I could tell my relatives were a little disappointed how many errors were in the book, but I assured them that it was only a rough draft.

The greatest impact of this book was getting the ball rolling on my extensive project. Over the course of a few months, I had developed a rapport with all of my father’s living paternal cousins, as well as several of their children (my second cousins). The first edition of my book showed them that I was capable of carrying through on my work. After all, a lot of family history projects get started, but never get finished due to various dead ends, lack of interest or cooperation from relatives, or interruptions in life!

In February of 2007, I started work on High Family 1726-2007: Second Edition. One of the first things I did was speak to all of the relatives who had received copies of the book and enquired about any errors they came across while reading the book. Not only did several relatives inform me of various misinformation and errors, but they often provided me with much more information.

Over the course of 2007, I received well over 100 new photos from family members. Many of these old photos were true gems that I had never seen before: an 1880s photograph of my great-great-grandparents, Gustaf and Anna Christina High’s family, a wedding photograph of my great-grandparents, Aaron High and Mary Lundgren High from 1895, as well as an abundant amount of wonderful pictures from the 1940s of my dad and his cousins when they were children.

For my second edition of High Family history, I contacted more distant relatives, such as second-cousins of my dad and my third cousins, who were also helpful in sharing new information, stories, and old pictures with me. I also contacted Nicollet County Historical Society, the historical society for the county associated with my family, and received obituary clippings of numerous ancestors and relatives, old church records listing ancestors, and land plat maps which showed the land my ancestors owned in Nicollet County.

I also decided to conduct research on the ancestors of my great-grandmother, Mary Lundgren High, who hailed from the province of Dalsland in western Sweden. The historian from Nicollet County Historical Society put me in contact with a distant Swedish cousin of his, who conducted research on my Lundgren ancestors. I had this researcher find information on my great-grandmother’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. By the time his research was complete, I had enough material for a new chapter dedicated to my Lundgren ancestors. I also came in contact with distant relatives on the Lundgren side who were also helpful in providing me with more information and pictures.

Throughout the course of 2007, I spent hundreds of hours expanding my family history, incorporating all of the new information and photographs I had acquired. The chapters I had written on my great-great-grandparents and great-grandparents tripled in size, as did files on several relatives. By the summer of 2007, I was quite impressed with how much new material my book had!

The last major expansion I made to my book was to the first chapter on my Swedish ancestors. Although the information I had on the High’s Swedish ancestors was limited to basic items such as their names, children’s names, parents’ names, dates of birth, death, marriage, and places they lived, I realized that understanding the historical, geographical, economical, and cultural backdrop they lived in really shed a lot of light on what their lives were like! Thus, Iincluded new sections on18th and 19th Century rural Swedish life, basic information on Swedish weddings, Swedish holidays and festivals, Norse Mythology, Swedish folklore, and some old folktales collected from Småland, the area the High Family’s ancestors lived.

On December 22, 2007, work on the High Family 1726-2007: Second Edition was finally completed. The book was MUCH larger than the first, totaling over 600 pages! Whereas the first book was bound with spiral binding, the new second edition was hardbound, giving it the feel of an official, published book. My relatives were amazed by how much information I had acquired!

Although I definitely wanted to write a third edition of High Family history at some point, I decided that it would probably be at least a few years before such a book saw the light of day. My family had undergone such a transformation from the first to second edition that I likewise wanted a third edition to blow the second one out of the water. I wouldn’t actually start writing any new material related the High Family until May of 2011, a month before I journeyed to Sweden to visit the places my ancestors lived. That though, is a tale for another blog…

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