How Did You Get Started as a Genealogist? Share Your Story with Us!

A Louisiana newspaper in 1853 said of family historians that “their memory is a forest planted with genealogical trees.” How true that is!
Daily Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 25 October 1853, page 5.

After years of family history research many genealogists have had all types of “Eureka!” moments and breakthroughs, when they found a particular newspaper article or government record in their genealogical research that filled in gaps on their family trees.

My breakthrough moment as a genealogist was finding an 1811 real estate ad for my great-great-great-great-great grandfather’s farm in Maine. Aging sea captain James Garcelon (1739-1813) was selling his farm and moving in with his son William. The newspaper ad gave a terrific description of my ancestor’s property: a two-story house “very pleasantly situated” on 150 acres “with a handsome young orchard” and featuring two barns, outhouses, and “an excellent well of water.” Portland Gazette and Maine Advertiser. (Portland, Maine), 25 February 1811, page 4.

When I read this real estate ad, I could really picture my ancestor’s farm. I grew up on old farm property in New Hampshire. There were cellar holes where the homes and barns had once stood, wild apple trees, and with a little priming the well still gave ice cold water—and all around us stretched the long-idle fields. Maybe it was like my ancestor’s Garcelon Farm in the 1700s?

Thinking back on your own family history research—what first got you interested in genealogy? What was your most surprising genealogical discovery? What have you learned about your family along the way? What are your most prized genealogical discoveries? GenealogyBank wants to hear from you! Tell us your story.

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AL. Huntsville. Huntsville Gazette*. 1881-06-18 to 1894-12-29
CA. San Francisco. Elevator*. 1872-11-16 to 1898-06-11
CT. Mystic. Mystic Journal. 1859-03-12 to 1862-12-27
CT. New Canaan. New Canaan News-Review. 2009-11-05 to Current
CT. New London. New London Gazette and General Advertiser. 1825-01-05 to 1826-12-27
CT. Middletown. American Sentinel. 1826-04-05 to 1833-03-06
CT. Middletown. Middlesex Gazette. 1829-01-07 to 1834-01-23
DC. Washington. Colored American*. 1898-03-12 to 1904-02-27
DC. Washington. Daily National Intelligencer. 1850-10-16 to 1852-12-31
DC. Washington. Grit*. 1883-12-21 to 1884-10-18
DC. Washington. Washington Bee. 1893-01-07 to 1910-06-25
IA. Fort Madison. Daily Democrat, The. 2009-12-19 to Current
IL. Quincy. Quincy Whig. 1868-05-03 to 1876-12-30
IN. Indianapolis. Freeman. 1895-09-21 to 1911-02-11
KS. Fort Scott. Fair Play*. 1898-04-22 to 1899-06-16
KS. Hutchinson. Blade*. 1919-12-20 to 1922-04-01
KS. Kansas City. Advocate. 1916-01-07 to 1921-12-30
KS. Lawrence. Western Recorder*. 1883-03-17 to 1884-11-06
KS. Topeka. Capital Plaindealer*. 1936-09-20 to 1938-08-06
KS. Topeka. Kansas Whip*. 1934-12-21 to 1955-09-30
KS. Wichita. Wichita Post-Observer*. 1953-01-23 to 1953-12-25
KY. Frankfort. Palladium. 1802-07-01 to 1803-12-24
LA. New Orleans. Times-Picayune. 1950-04-05 to 1961-05-15
MA. Boston. Boston Daily Advertiser. 1860-01-03 to 1889-12-31
MA. Boston. Boston Journal. 1884-07-01 to 1884-12-31
MA. Cape Cod. Cape Cod Chronicle, The. 2009-10-02 to Current
MA. Gloucester. Gloucester Telegraph. 1842-01-01 to 1842-12-31
MA. Springfield. Hampden Federalist. 1821-01-03 to 1823-03-05
MD. Baltimore. American and Commercial Daily Advertiser. 1801-01-31 to 1809-4-24
MD. Baltimore. Maryland Journal. 1785-06-28 to 1794-11-28
MI. Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo Gazette. 1915-08-03 to 1921-02-23
MI. Shelby, Utica. Shelby-Utica News. 2009-10-07 to Current
MN. St. Paul. Appeal*. 1908-09-05 to 1923-11-24
NC. Albemarle. Stanly News and Press, The. 2009-10-10 to Current
NC. Newbern. Newbern Sentinel. 1826-01-07 to 1828-06-12
NC. Yadkinville. Yadkin Ripple, The. 2009-10-02 to Current
NJ. Trenton. New Jersey State Gazette. 1796-10-18 to 1799-02-19
NY. Brighton, Pittsford. Brighton-Pittsford Post. 2009-10-04 to Current
NY. Goshen. Orange County Gazette. 1806-05-20 to 1814-09-20
NY. New York. Irish World. 1893-09-02 to 1905-04-08
NY. New York. New York Herald. 1869-05-21 to 1869-07-21
NY. New York. New York Herald. 1895-07-14 to 1895-08-08
NY. New York. New York Herald-Tribune. 1856-07-01 to 1877-06-15
NY. New York. Spectator. 1823-11-18 to 1824-10-26
NY. Poughkeepsie. Dutchess Observer. 1820-11-01 to 1821-12-26
NY. Dover. New-Hampshire Republican. 1825-01-03 to 1825-09-27
OH. Chillicothe. Scioto Gazette. 1801-08-02 to 1814-04-28
OH. Cleveland. Plain Dealer. 1967-12-01 to 1970-09-10
OH. Logan. Logan Daily News, The. 2010-01-10 to Current
OH. Marrietta. Ohio Gazette. 1806-04-24 to 1811-12-09
OH. Sandusky. Sandusky Register. 1849-10-02 to 1850-02-15
OH. St. Clairsville. Ohio Federalist. 1816-08-15 to 1816-12-05
OR. Ontario. Argus Observer. 2009-10-02 to Current
OR. Portland. Oregonian. 1948-12-20 to 1962-12-15
PA. Philadelphia. Democratic Press. 1808-03-28 to 1818-06-30
PA. Williamsburg. Virginia Gazette. 1766-03-16 to 1774-12-29
PA. Williamsburg. Virginia Gazette. 1775-02-03 to 1776-07-26
RI. Warren. Herald of the United States. 1796-01-02 to 1812-12-12
SC. Charleston. City Gazette. 1825-05-02 to 1825-08-31
TN. Nashville. Nashville Gazette. 1819-05-26 to 1827-02-14
TN. Sevierville. Mountain Press, The. 2009-10-02 to Current
TX. Big Spring. Big Spring Herald. 2009-10-02 to Current
TX. Brownwood. Brownwood Bulletin. 2009-12-03 to Current
TX. Dallas. Dallas Morning News. 1979-02-01 to 1979-05-31
UT. Salt Lake City. Broad Ax*. 1895-08-31 to 1897-01-30
VA. Amherst. Amherst New Era Progress. 2009-10-02 to Current
VA. Amherst. Nelson County Times. 2009-10-02 to Current
WA. Seattle. Seattle Daily Times. 1953-01-01 to 1969-09-30