All of us share a different story for how our interest in genealogy developed. While some of us may have always been fascinated by family history, many individuals are not until they make their first discovery. The majority of genealogists do not begin to conduct their research until later in life.
I currently am 24 years old, and began my research at the age of 18. I also wrote most of this article when I was 22, and am stunned at how bad my writing was back then. Maybe I was just trying to keep it short and to the point, who knows. Anyways, I am going to tell you what introduced me to genealogy.
How did I become interested in genealogy? What did I discover? What did this lead me to find in the future?
- The National Archives:
In the spring of 2010, when I was 17, I went on a trip to Washington, D.C. and paid a visit to the National Archives. While there, I was able to view records on microfilm and found my great grandfather, Edward Hiebel Sr., living with his family in Chicago, Illinois on a census record from the early 1900s.
- What I Discovered:
This census record was the first time I saw the names of his parents and siblings. I found out that the name of my 2nd great grandfather was Frank and the name of my 2nd great grandmother was Anna. I also found that Edward had 3 brothers; Robert, Thomas, and Raymond. My dad didn’t know much of our family history before his grandpa, and only knew about his brother Thomas. Another thing he always assumed was that his great grandfather was the immigrant ancestor, however this census record said that Frank Hiebel was born in Wisconsin.
- What This Lead To:
Finding this census record and learning the names of my 2nd great grandparents is what began my interest in genealogy. That summer I was 18 and had just graduated high school. Looking for a new hobby, I turned to genealogy to see how much more I could find out about my ancestors. Back then I had no clue how far I would get. Since 2010, I have traced the Hiebel family back 12 generations to the early 1600s to Bavaria and Bohemia, found the biological family of my adopted maternal grandmother, connected with distant relatives, found ethnicities I never knew I had, ancestors who fought in the Civil War and American Revolution, and much more! I will post future articles in further detail of stories about the Hiebel family, however give a brief summary of what I found here:
- Edward Hiebel Sr: My great grandfather was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of Frank Hiebel and Anna Horazdovsky. Frank and Anna had 3 other children; Robert, Thomas, and Raymond. Edward’s brother Thomas was a veteran of WWII.
- Frank Hiebel: My 2nd great grandfather was born in Kewaunee, Wisconsin. He was the son of Thomas Hiebel and Anna Schanilec. Thomas and Anna had 4 other children; Mary, Joseph, James, and William. All 5 of their children moved to Chicago, Illinois.
- Anna Horazdovsky: My 2nd great grandmother was born in Chicago, Illinois. She was the daughter of John Horazdovsky and Frances Pasicek. Anna Horazdovsky was of Czech-Bohemian descent, and her parents immigrated to Chicago from Bohemia.
- Thomas Hiebel: My 3rd great grandfather was born in Hluboka, Bohemia. He was the son of Joseph Hiebel and Anna Kelnhofer. Thomas Hiebel was of German-Bohemian descent. Joseph and Anna had 3 other children; Mary, Anna, and Joseph. Thomas immigrated with his parents and sisters to Kewaunee, Wisconsin in 1861. His first wife Anna Schanilec died young, and when his children moved to Chicago he moved to Belle River, Douglas, Minnesota. He remarried to Amelia Newman and they had one daughter together; Francis.
- Anna Schanilec: My 3rd great grandmother was born in Bohemia. She was the daughter of Jan and Josefa Schanilec. Anna Schanilec was of Czech-Bohemian descent, and her family immigrated to Kewaunee, Wisconsin.
My advice for those who are younger like me is to start your family research now! You never know what surprising facts you will learn and be able to teach others within your family. Most of my family wasn’t very interested in genealogy before, however with everything I have found they are always asking if I have found something new!
My great grandfather, Edward Hiebel Sr.
My 2nd great grandfather, Frank Hiebel
My 2nd great grandmother, Anna Horazdovsky
My 3rd great grandmother, Francis Pasicek