Digging Your Family's Roots Sun City's Genealogy Club Helping Members Research Their Surnames

Article excerpt

Byline: Joanne Leis Daily Herald Correspondent

When Virginia Stuvick began researching her family tree, she discovered her paternal grandfather had a wife and five children no one ever knew about.

"That's the only surprise I found and that was a pretty big surprise," said Stuvick, president of Sun City's genealogy club. "That was not the grandmother I knew. My grandfather had a first marriage no one ever talked about and he had five kids."

Stuvick still is working to verify her grandfather's first marriage with a marriage license. That kind of documentation is necessary when developing a family history, and the Genealogy Club of Sun City-Huntley is teaching her about ways to do just that.

The club's 30 members meet from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month to discuss genealogy techniques. Dues are $10 per year.

The genealogy club started as part of Sun City's computer club and just recently applied for its own charter. The computer club was founded three years ago, and the first year revealed that many members had special interests such as digital photography and genealogy, said Howard Gielow, former genealogy club president.

The Internet provides a wealth of information for those researching their ancestry. One Web site, www.cyndislist.com, provides links to 181,000 genealogy web sites and people upload their own family trees. Computer software is available for organizing and presenting documentation.

About two years ago, a computer club special interest group was launched for the for the 25 people interested in genealogy. Each meeting includes a presentation by a speaker who teaches members about pursuing family tree research.

Speakers have included librarians, experienced club members and a representative from the Latter-Day Saints. The Mormons have members all over the world collecting and transcribing ancestry data and they also provide free genealogy software, Gielow said.

Techniques for reconstructing family histories include using the Internet, walking cemeteries and visiting county courthouses to obtain birth, death and marriage certificates.

"It's one of the things I said I would do in retirement," said Stuvick, who devotes about four hours a week to her hobby. "It's like fitting puzzle pieces together. …