December 28, 2016 – Reflecting on 10 Years of My Interest in Genealogy

While it’s hard for me to believe, 2016 marked the 10 year anniversary of when I took a deep interest in my ancestry. In this blog, I’d like to reflect on the past 10 years and the genealogical activities that I conducted in each of those years.

2006: In August of 2006, I discovered my passion for genealogy when I found the 1972 book The High Family: 1799-1972 that listed the descendants of Sven Hög and Anna Stina Johansdotter, the patriarch and matriarch of the High family. Shortly after I found this book, I purchased a subscription to and entered in all of the known information on my ancestors. That year, I also contacted a researcher in Sweden who uncovered information on Sven and Anna Stina, their parents, and their grandparents. I also had the pleasure of contacting my father’s paternal relatives and getting to know them. Over the course of that autumn, I wrote the High Family: 1726-2006 (First Edition), a 200+ page book on the High family, which was finished on December 23rd.

2007: During 2007, I added several hundred pages to the book I had written on the High family. On December 22, 2007, I finished work on High Family: 1726-2007 (Second Edition) which was over 600 pages. In May of 2007, my mother and I took a bike ride to Warsaw, Minnesota to visit the graves of my great-great-grandparents Charles and Amelia Berndt, who immigrated to America in 1880.

2008: In early 2008, I finally made contact with a distant Swedish relative, Pia Gudbrand Lindgren, my fifth cousin. Both Pia and I had a mutual researcher who introduced us. Pia was the first of many of my Swedish relatives that I’ve enjoyed meeting over the past 8 years. In the summer of that year, I met several relatives on the side of my paternal grandmother, Emma High, whose four sets of great-grandparents all emigrated to the U.S. from Germany in the 1850s and 1860s. On August 3rd of that year, I organized a major High family reunion, which commemorated the 150 year anniversary of my great-great-grandparents Gustaf and Anna Christina High’s immigration to America. This reunion was a huge success, with over 100 in attendance.

2009: In June of 2009, my mother and I took a trip to Sparta, Wisconsin, the town her maternal grandmother, Caroline Stewart Kuebler, was born in 1880. During that trip, we visited Monroe County and Vernon County historical societies and learned more about my great- grandmother’s parents, maternal grandparents, and maternal great- grandparents, and visited the cemeteries that they were buried at.

2010: In October of 2010, my mother and I took a trip to Vermont and Massachusetts, to visit the places where several of my maternal great- grandmother’s ancestors lived. During this trip, we visited the places were some of my 5th, 6th, and 7th great-grandparents lived and the cemeteries where they are buried. In addition to learning more about our ancestors, we also had the privilege of enjoying the vibrant fall colors that were at their peak in New England during our visit.

2011: In June of 2011, I took the trip of a lifetime to Sweden with my father and his wife. During this trip, I met several local historians who kindly showed me several of the places where my Swedish ancestors lived. I also met several of my Swedish relatives during this trip. This trip heralded the start of the current book that I’ve been working on the past five years on the Swedish ancestors of my great-great-grandfather Gustaf Adolf High. When I first started working on this book, I didn’t think I would uncover many new ancestors. Over the next few years however, I ended up discovering a number of ancestors that I didn’t know about.

2012: 2012 was undoubtedly the most difficult year of my life, as my father passed away on July 31st of that year. I spent a lot of 2012 working on writing about the various places my Swedish ancestors lived. I made a few ancestry discoveries in 2012. I learned that I had the wrong parents of patrilineal 4th great-grandfather Anders Andersson and discovered who his real parents were, as well as who his grandparents were. I also discovered the identity of my 6th great-grandmother Maria Engdahl, whose lineage can be traced to her 3rd great-grandfather Per in Äng. At the end of 2012, I revised my book’s format by incorporating several new types of colorful writing blocks.

2013: In January of 2013, I founded Inspirational Genealogy and launched this website as a way of sharing my work with others and inspiring them to write about their own ancestors. That same month, I put on the presentation “Folktales from Linderås and Norra Solberga Parishes” for Nicollet County Historical Society in St. Peter, Minnesota. The following month, I joined Olde Mecklenburg’s Genealogical Society, a genealogy group located in Charlotte, North Carolina, that meets once a month and is dedicated to the genealogy of Mecklenburg County. Joining OMGS was one of the best decisions that I’ve made since I moved to Charlotte in 2007, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through it. While I didn’t get as much done with my book as I had the previous couple of years, I did make some progress in 2013. In August, I discovered information on my 6th great-grandparents Nils Svensson and Catharina Svensdotter and found several websites which traced Catharina Svensdotter’s ancestors back several centuries. That same month, I attended the FGS (Federation of Genealogical Societies) convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In November, I came in contact with Roland Hermansson, my sixth cousin, who shared with me information on the ancestors of our 5th great-grandparents, Johan Svensson and Annika Johansdotter.

2014: I didn’t work on my book for the first half of 2014. By this point in time, I had learned of so many new ancestors that I was a bit overwhelmed, and needed to take a little break from it. In the second half of the year, I wrote the first two chapters of my book, as well as most of the third chapter. In 2014, I started serving as the Minutes Secretary for OMGS. That year, I put on the presentation “Incorporating Multiple Voices in Your Ancestors’ Narratives” for OMGS.

2015: In 2015, I continued serving as the Minutes Secretary for OMGS, and also became the coordinator for its publication The Quarterly. In February of 2015, I put on another presentation for OMGS, in which I showed them the first chapter of my book. I finished the third chapter of my book in 2015, and completed most of the fourth and fifth chapters as well.

2016: As 2016 comes to a close, I am continuing to serve as the Minutes Secretary for OMGS and the coordinator for The Quarterly. I finished work on the fourth and fifth chapters of my book this year. In June, I started work on the sixth chapter of my book. That month, I met an eighth-cousin, Britt-Marie Kronstand Wallin, who has graciously helped me research our ancestors my sending me images of scanned pages from books and articles about our ancestors. Over the past 6 months, I have been working on the sixth and seventh chapters of my book, which describes the lives of my ancestors who lived in the 17th century. In November, I put on the presentation “Effectively Organizing Your Family History” for OMGS.

The past decade has certainly gone by fast! However, as I reflect upon it, I am grateful for all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had that my interest in genealogy has brought me.

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