How I Learned My Family History for Free

How I Learned My Family History for Free

I’m not quiet about my love for libraries. I’ve written about some of the great free services libraries offer before, and I’m always down for a trip to check out the new movies or shows they have available to check out (it’s a great place to get free check outs for Game of Thrones).

One of my favorite free services would have to be their partnership with Ancestry. I’ve been using this over the past couple of months to find out more about my family history. I’ve always wanted to learn more, but I didn’t want to pay the costly fees that came along with one of those online subscriptions.

I’ll start by giving you a little background on me. I don’t really know anything about my family or where we came from. I’ve never lived with my father and mother, so I didn’t know where to begin looking into my personal ancestry. I’m assuming the Kerners in America came from somewhere in Europe, probably Germany due to my last name. The name has a really German sound.

I walked in the library and asked the librarian about the program. She knew exactly what I was talking about and brought me over to the computers. She showed me their library-exclusive Ancestry program, and I started my search there.

When I first logged in, I noticed that there were tons of options to search for. I decided to start with the only thing I knew: my last name. I typed that in and clicked search. Thousands of results came up for Kerners all over the globe. I started whittling it down to people in Louisiana within the last 100 years to see if I could find a name to begin building a family tree.

That’s when I saw my father’s name. While I don’t know him personally, I know based off of tidbits of information I was given in my life that this was him. The city, age and name all matched up. This led me to find his father, grandfathers and more.

I saw that the men in the family all shared the same middle name. I thought that was interesting, but couldn’t figure out where the middle name that has been passed on for generations came from. According to a physical, scanned-in record for my great grandfather, the middle name comes from his father.

I’m assuming my great, great grandfather and his wife didn’t want their son to have his name, so they put it as his middle name. It’s kind of cool to know that my middle name comes from someone born in 1884. Based off of records I found in the library’s program, he lived in New Orleans and only spoke German. He worked odd jobs for the city to make a living.

His son ended up marrying an Italian by the name of Felicie. They got married at the age of 20 and lived out their lives together. They had seven kids, one of those being my great grandfather.

The farthest back I’ve gone so far is my third great grandfather named Henry. He used “Hy” as a shortened version of his name on most paperwork and was born in 1843. He has a very interesting story to go along with his life:

Free family history information at the library

He was shot in the thumb, and according to his records, he was a doctor. His wife’s name was Christine Kerner, and they travelled into the country from Germany—just as I called it!

Without the library, I would have had to pay a LOT of money to find out any of this information. I visited once or twice a month for a couple of months to look through the records and make some notes. While my history may not seem particularly newsworthy (some people find out their ancestors were kings), I’m extremely happy to know more about my family history.

What’s something interesting about your family history that you’ve learned?

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