In 1980 a friend asked me to help his cousin with his genealogy. I agreed and found myself immersed in a hobby that has stood the test of time. My local librarian was the top genealogist in the state at that time and took me under her wing. Through multiple jobs, many moves, surgeries and other trying times, my research has provided me challenges, a wonderful 'cousin' network, and solace in an often stressful life.
In 1981 I purchased a TI-994A computer. I had the first hard drive on my block and knew that all the paper clutter genealogy creates could be held on that hard drive. I also wanted reports and searches I could not do easily on paper. I taught myself the Pascal programming language and several months later Genealogy Workshop, the first database for genealogy research, was born. Workshop was marketed for 7 years, an eternity in the computer software world.
Fast forward to today. I have moved from hobbyist to Professional to retiree. As a pro, I was active in my local Genealogical Society, taught genealogy 16 weeks a year, conducted private research, held monthly or twice monthly workshops, and worked with other's DNA matches. I "Did Genealogy" full-time. Then COVID hit and the world became a different place.
You see, I am an addict. A Rutledge addict. The pandemic opened up access to archives and facilities that were 'too busy' to respond remotely in the past. They now had time, and I was able to delve deeper into my research than I ever had. I solved mysteries, developed theories, and tried to step away to work on other lines, But something would always pull me back. A DNA match would intrigue me, The Y-DNA test results would finally come in, I would think of a new avenue of research. It's always the Rutledges. And so, I now have new topics to master.
Why isn't my research on Familysearch, WikiTree or 'public' on Ancestry? Because I need to explain how I 'got there'. I pose a research question, then write the argument. I cannot do that using the online tools today. You see, genealogy is more about the 'how' than the facts. How did I find that? How did I come to that conclusion or hypothesis? What records taken together support that idea, or reject it? I cannot just plug this early research into a database and hope others will be able to understand. I want my relatives to UNDERSTAND, not blindly copy.
DNA testing reopened a world familiar to me. I learned a lot about genetics when breeding Appaloosa horses. Genetic Genealogy is the reverse. When breeding horses, I was creating a 'product', I am now using DNA to try to find clues to the origins of the 'product' (Our Rutledge family).
I love genealogy for the challenge of the research and the stories that make history real. DNA has given me cousins I would not have found with traditional research alone. I have busted brick walls, some that have stood for over 20 years, and opened previously unknown lines of research for my clients and myself.