2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 1 (Jan. 1-7) First

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 1 (Jan. 1-7) First

I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

Week 1 (Jan. 1-7) First

“First” has many meanings… from the first day you began researching… your first ancestor found… first ancestor photos discovered… even to your first grandchild, in the continuing of your family… They are the ones who will have to carry the torch on!

I’ve decided to write on a few of my favorite and remembered “firsts”… I’m sure there are many, but these have stood out to me!


These “first” written names from my mother gave me my start!

My “first” experience in beginning my family research came from just a couple pieces of paper my mother gave me many, many years ago…  names of family members she had remembered. I’m sure when she handed it to me, I didn’t give it much thought… but I did have thought to file it away for when that day came… and it did come many years later after my children were older and I had free afternoons.

At the time I became more interested was when I bought my son his “first” computer. We had just had eye and hands contact on one at my uncle’s house… and while I couldn’t, at that time, wrap my head around how I could access all the information I was told that was out there… I was intrigued, and wanted one… probably more than my son did at the moment. It was either AOL or Prodigy who everyone first used… remember all the AOL disks that were everywhere for the taking; I’m sure there’s still probably one lurking somewhere in my house! And I bet you still remember that sound of the phone dialing you onto their site… and redialing because it was busy. Then after you finally were off offline after hours of being on-line… calls rang through with complains that they couldn’t get through as you had the line tied up. That was before we all had cell phones… when you were on the phone, it couldn’t be used for anything else… and most times you didn’t care!

I never liked the AOL setup, so we ventured out more with Prodigy and I became hooked on many of those Prodigy genealogy groups… making many of my “first” contacts on family surnames. Several of those contacts moved on with me off Prodigy and now we keep up through email in sharing new discoveries today. Prodigy gave me my “first” McKinley contact of a family cousin in Georgia who shared all she had with me… and I was so overwhelmed beyond belief! We even enjoyed a “first” meeting on one of my trips home to Georgia to visit mom.


genealogy room

Where you start…. a local library!

I’ll never forget the day I joined a genealogy group at a library near me. I’m not one for joining groups, but I had questions on family research and as there was no one else I knew who researched genealogy… I went…. and it was free!

I gathered what little I had along with my notebook and pen, and off I went to the library for their next meeting… walking in very nervous on that first day. Immediately I could tell that most there already knew each other… I was suddenly the new girl in the class… and also the youngest. They seemed to be mostly retired seniors, with lots of time on their hands… and quickly referred to me as the baby of their group, but welcomed me and seemed quite happy to have a younger researcher interested in genealogy. Elsie, who ran the group was very encouraging as she explained things in more detail to me and even invited me to her home a few afternoons to fully explain things like Census records and what all could be gleaned from them. Who knew I could view Census records, land deeds or wills… but I was learning about many “firsts.”  I finally had people I could ask questions to! It was there that I “first” received blank copies of family group sheets where I could log my family information on. Now I knew what I could do with those written names that my mother had given me, and before I knew it, I had many family group sheets in the process of being filled out… my “first” paperchase was building!

group sheets from lds

The very “firsts” of printable surname sheets from the LDS Library

It was that genealogy group which definitely gave me my “first” start into family history research… sad that I don’t see any library groups like that anymore… there must be people today that want to begin searching, but don’t know where to start… and even though there is information online, sometimes there is nothing better than having a live person in front of you!


cambino ship clip

Giuseppe Gambino arriving on the S.S. Moltke from Naples

Another very excitable “first” moment was the day I found my husband’s Italian grandfather who had arrived in America at Ellis Island. I had first begun researching hubby’s family as I never thought I could research mine in Georgia, while living in Connecticut… I later learned, that wasn’t the case!

There were no Ellis Island records online when I “first” began, so it was off to the Latter Day Saints (LDS) local library. I was so overwhelmed on my “first” visit… having no clue on what I needed, but I did know the “first” thing I wanted to find… my husband’s grandfather on a ship manifest, in arriving at Ellis Island. After given a tour of what was at the library, and what I could order, I ordered ship records for the date I had of him arriving… and then I waited for my reel to come.

It finally arrived…

I quickly learned how to load the reel on the fiche machines and began scrolling page by page… and I thought this was going to be easy! Even though I knew the date he arrived (May 14, 1913)… reading all those Italian names scribbled there wasn’t always the easiest to decipher, but finally on Line 5… a name caught my eye… Giuseppe Gambino. I matched again the date to the page… hoping it must be him! I so wanted to yell out and do the happy dance on that “first” find… but all I could do was print the page and be happy. That was the “first” of many more findings of hubby’s ancestors arriving at Ellis Island… but that came much later when Ellis Island opened up their website online with indexes… so much easier… but I’ll never forget my real “first” find, and how exciting it was!


Extending my family with grown and married children gave me my “first” grandchild in 2010… it was then time to update the family records with Ella Maria Insalaco. While I wasn’t the one in labor, I was very scared…. now I was being moved into another generation… a generation known as a grandmother… ouch! What would I be called, it wasn’t going to be grandma! After much thought, I heard the name of GiGi used by someone… and that quickly stuck! Even my mother has an unusual grandmother name… she goes by Angel; which had been her CB handle name. My children wouldn’t think to call her anything but Angel.. and at age 88 today she’s still called Angel by many who know her.

Even though my granddaughter has an Italian surname, and parents of more Italian DNA than Irish, she was born on St. Patrick’s Day. I immediately told my son that she was born on that day to remind him that she has more Irish ancestry, and definitely looks more like an Irish lass… but also has twin sisters who look more Italian. Funny how the DNA goes in different directions… one of these days we will test her DNA and see what the cards say!

week 1

Stay tuned for Week 2: Challenge

Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.


© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 1 (Jan. 1-7) First

  1. I wasn’t yet into family history when I was a member of Prodigy. Instead, I joined groups on writing (I was starting a freelance writing career) and travel. I have warm feelings about Prodigy, because the group of friends on the writing group still stay in touch–mostly by email now. Most of us have met face-to-face over the intervening years. That’s a bit of nostalgia that I thank you for bringing up. (And youngsters today think it all started with Facebook!)

    Liked by 1 person

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