For many history enthusiasts interested in researching their families’ lineage, digging up records and sifting through the Internet for additional clues has become a life-long journey. For those avid family historians, there’s an opportunity to expand on researching skills as the East Texas Genealogical Society holds its 10th Annual Family History Fair from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints, 1617 Shiloh Road.
The featured speaker is David Rencher, chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch, a Web site that provides databases and genealogical resources for families. FamilySearch, associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is a free site accessible through one of the church’s Family History buildings.
“His birth family is from Texas, so he has a special fondness for Texas,” said Genealogical Society member Scott Fitzgerald.
Genealogical Society members say an average of 150 people attend the event each year, but they expect an audience of as many as 300 people this weekend. They said they typically attract people from across East Texas and the Dallas area.
“What’s changed is the use of computers. About 10 years ago, it really took off,” she said.
But while family search Web sites provide a wealth of information, old-fashioned research still is a valuable technique.
“No fact is verified until you have two or more records that say the same thing,” said Lawrence Oliver, webmaster for the Genealogical Society.
Fitzgerald added, “Not everything is on microfilm or digitized. Sometimes the things you need may be in a probate record that nobody ever thought about.”
Fitzgerald said it also is wise to bookmark and source where you received information when making notes, as some records may not be permanently stored on the Internet.
Everyone runs into a wall when searching family history, Genealogical Society members say. But instead of giving up, they say it is another opportunity to take a break from that particular family line and explore another.
Sometimes people can stumble on unique details or even secrets kept by ancestors. Stories about colorful family members may serve as a starting point in researching information.
“People don’t always talk about it, but black sheep in the family is always a great motive to learn,” Oliver said.
Registration for the event begins at 8:30 a.m. For more information about the family history fair, call Ken Stegall at 903-262-0276 or June Everheart at 903-877-4501.