Sparking an interest in the past the goal of Friday’s ‘Find Your Ancestors!’

November 01, 2006
Santa Paula News

When Cathy Robbins first became a professional genealogy researcher about 30 years ago, “I didn’t know much about my family, but now I have about 24,000 names in my database,” she noted.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesWhen Cathy Robbins first became a professional genealogy researcher about 30 years ago, “I didn’t know much about my family, but now I have about 24,000 names in my database,” she noted.How easy it is to enter the fascinating world of genealogy will be detailed at the community-invited “Find Your Ancestors!” premier event to be held Friday, Nov. 3 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 604 Ojai Road.Starting at 6:30 p.m. family history consultants will be on hand offering a free list of genealogy Websites, access to computers with hands-on Internet search locations and much more.A Personal Ancestral File (PAF), a computer program for your personal genealogy files, will be available for only $1.“Our goal in having this event is to help people find their ancestors and have joy in their discoveries,” said Robbins, a Santa Paula resident who first entered the field before computers made such searches much more successful.November is National Family Week and the church is planning to make the “Find Your Ancestors!” fair an annual event.Robbins noted that a student in one of her genealogy classes was a private investigator: “He said ‘I can find the living but can find the dead!’ ” by accessing records of those who have passed.Robbins has researched local families using the vast archives of the Ventura County Museum of History & Art working with museum historian Charles Johnson, local research that becomes international as generations are traced back through the centuries.Old records, insurance maps, census data, all can be incorporated into research as well as references in old journals and photographs.
When she delved into her own ancestors, Robbins found that she had four family members who arrived in America on the Mayflower.“Of course, I also have Native American ancestors that go back farther…” information that sometimes comes as a surprise to present generations who are unaware that family members were the real first Americans.Robbins said that another fascinating aspect of genealogy is that “A lot of family folklore” including accomplishments of ancestors can be proved, not possible without the knowledge of family past.“As you get into history you gain a great respect for these people and what they did,” said Robbins, who treasures a cameo passed down through many generations. “My great-grandmother got it from her great-grandmother” and having the history of her relatives, “the pictures of these people,” is invaluable to mind and spirit.Finding that she had a great-great uncle who was a genealogist with the Library of Congress came as a surprise to Robbins, but “As you search back you find out about yourself,” and the many interests, hobbies, personality traits and physical resemblance’s passed from generation to generation.Robbins, who works one day a week at the Family History Center, teaches free classes in Ventura twice a year.“I haven’t found anybody who doesn’t get excited when they trace their history…they say its so much fun to find out who their ancestors were. You can begin to understand yourself better and it’s fun when you find out and really connect to,” your ancestors.“My great love is doing research in genealogy and showing others” how easy it has become.The “Find Your Ancestors!” fair will also include family tree and Ventura County Genealogical Society displays – as well as CERT Emergency Pack information to keep the present generation safe in case of disaster - child care and refreshments.And, “Anyone who fills out a pedigree brochure and leaves it with us,” will be delighted to find his or her ancestors and perhaps spark a serious interest in genealogy. “We never make a profit, just cover minimal costs,” said Robbins. “We’re there to please people and help them find their ancestors.”

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