Saturday, December 29, 2007

My 2008 New Year's Resolution

Being a planner by nature, you would think I would LOVE New Year's resolutions. A chance to literally sit down and plan my own improvements, thereby making me a better human being, a worthy spouse, a compassionate friend, a harder-working employee and with any luck, a less rotund person — well how could I resist?

And in truth, I used to love the opportunity to create wonderfully thought-out resolutions. I would spend weeks thinking about them, worrying over every little detail of how I would incorporate more exercise into my life, put away my passion for chocolate or set aside an hour a day to learn a foreign language. Ah, so much time and thought put into these wonderful scenarios of self-improvement. Until I realized there was an inverse relationship to how much time I put into making my resolutions and how fast I broke them.

For you see, and it pains me greatly to say this, the fact of the matter is I am a resolution slacker. I'm lucky to have a resolution last all of three days ... tops! So a few years back, I made the one resolution that I was finally able to keep — no more New Year's resolutions. It's not that I don't have goals. I do. I just don't tie them to any specific arbitrary date, like the New Year, for example.

However, due to a confluence of events, namely my resubscribing to Ancestry, my discovery of the Henry County Genealogical Society's Web site, and the fact that the 39th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy's subject is “New Year's Resolutions,” I've decided to take the plunge and make public my goal for 2008.

My goal is to work on one of my brick wall families, the Jacobus branch this year, and to take all of you on this journey with me. Now, granted this could end up being a very big, very public mistake, but I 'm more afraid of not trying than of failure. My reasons for taking this public approach are:

1. ACCOUNTABILITY — Making this resolution public will push me into pursuing information in a way that my lazy slacker self might not do without the knowledge that someone might ask, “Hey Terry, how is that Jacobus project coming?”

2. GROUP THINK — I am constantly amazed at the large number of things I DO NOT KNOW. But just about the time I am banging my head on my desktop in frustration, I have a hunch that somebody reading my post will write, “Hey Terry, what about trying this?” Because while genealogy may at times be a solitary endeavor, it is also one of sharing. Family genealogists happen to be the most giving people I know, and I am confident, if someone out there has a suggestion of another approach, they will let me know.

3. INSPIRATION — No, I don't think that I am particularly adept at inspiring others, but maybe with my yammering on about my project, someone out there will take a fresh look at one of his own “problem” families and share his successes and frustrations with the rest of us.

The truth is, if you scratch beyond the surface of a family genealogist you will find a lover of puzzles and mysteries. It is the nature of our addiction. Unlike a TV mystery that is solved in an hour, or a good mystery book that is solved at the end of 400 pages, there are no guarantees of success in genealogical mysteries. And it is this very difficulty that makes the success so sweet.

So officially, my resolution is this — I will seek to learn more about Thomas Jacobus and his wife, Catherine, who are found in the 1850 census in Henry County, Ohio. More specifically, I will try to find Catherine's maiden name, hoping to fill in information about her branch of the family, and I will seek to find the parents of Thomas. A secondary goal will be to try to find out what happened to the 12 children that Catherine has listed as deceased in the 1900 census.

In the weeks and months ahead, I hope you will come along with me, as I try to accomplish these goals.

Until Next Time — Happy Ancestral Digging!

Note this post first published online, December 29, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

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