The Senior Genealogy Club, a recent outgrowth of the Highlands Ranch Senior Club, will host a beginner’s workshop from 9:30 to noon Aug. 23 at the Highlands Ranch Library.
Moderated by Gordon Taylor, the Senior Genealogy Club focuses on the initial stages of research and building facility with the various tools available.
“The club is about getting started and then where do you go from there. I’m trying to help keep them current and define where they are,” says Taylor, for whom genealogy has been an interest since adolescence.
“When I was a young man, my mother shared stories with me. Then, about 10 years ago, I learned that I was the oldest surviving offspring of my grandfather. I began to keep a file of births, deaths, and movements. There are about 300 of us, but I try to communicate with them yearly.”
While the amount of history may seem daunting at first, modern technologies go a long way toward alleviating the burden.
“You have to get through three or four generations of knowledge before you get to the larger piles of information,” explains Taylor. “Once you move beyond immediate family to extended family, there’s a strong chance you’ll find a cousin who is also interested in the history. Genealogy is moving into these larger collaborations.”
Linking up with another family member is precisely how Sara Lebofsky began her own investigation into her family’s history.
“There was a lady teaching us at the senior club, and through her I found a cousin I didn’t know I had. And this cousin had done a bunch of research on my mother’s side,” she recollects. “It was really wonderful — I learned more about my grandmother whom I was named after. The information about your ancestors is amazing.”
And both Lebofsky and Taylor have uncovered fascinating stories about their predecessors.
Says Lebofsky, “My great-grandfather was involved in several wars; the Franco-Prussian war, the Spanish American War, and the First World War. He was the one who started serving food cafeteria style for the service.”
And Taylor has not only uncovered ancestors involved in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars, but also a Joseph Taylor who “was captured by the U.S. army on the Wyoming Plain and escaped.”
Aside from the discovery of historical anecdotes, Taylor sees more intangible benefits to the study of one’s own genealogy, saying that “people who are grounded in their own history, if they have that rich source of family heritage and stories about those great Americana qualities, they are more likely to be able to handle trauma and changes.”
And Taylor can cite his own family tree as proof.
“There’s an area of Kentucky surrounded by Taylor descendants. It’s amazing to see what they’ve done and how their strength of character has blossomed into productive lives.”
“It’s exciting,” adds Lebofsky. “One thing leads to another and it’s extremely interesting to be finding getting and receiving new information. And learning about your family is learning about yourself and your history. You get to feel part of a larger picture. It’s like putting a puzzle together. I recommend it to everyone.”