At an early age, I remember sitting with my mother looking through my baby
book, looking at pictures and listening to her stories. One page of the book
was a four-generation pedigree chart. Mom pointed out her late grandparents and
told me about them. When I was about seven years old, my father took me on
a memorable 19-mile motorcycle ride from our Fort Wayne home to a cemetery in
Monroeville. He showed me the grave of my great-great-grandparents, Michael and Polly
Barrone. The stone was shaped as a tree trunk and towered above us. I felt an
immediate curiosity about these people who gave us our last name. The only
Barrones I knew were my grandmother, parents, and sister.
A year or two later, I realized that the four-generation chart did not tell
the whole story. I made an expanded chart, showed it to my maternal
grandmother, and asked her questions to fill in the blanks. She encouraged me,
but promptly informed me that my chart was missing branches for some of the
grandmothers. She told me that the women in the family were also important.
Soon after, she gave me a paperback book by William Latham entitled How to
Find Your Family Roots. As the book instructed, I acquired a file box,
file folders, and used my mother's typewriter to make a family group sheet.
After making photocopies of the form, I was off to work quizzing both
grandmothers and filling in the blanks.
After much work on the project, I got bogged down with the paperwork and
relegated the file box to my closet. For Christmas of 1993, my parents gave me
Family Tree Maker v1.0. I began entering data and quickly monopolized the use
of our family's new computer. My mother soon realized that there is a fine line
between passion and addiction for genealogists.
As a teenager in the 1990s, I began researching at ACPL and other
repositories. When I saw police officers while reading 19th-century deeds in the
recorder's office, I realized a trip to the City-County Building was not the
best choice of senior-skip-day activities.
In the same period, I was mentored by our church's historian, Elva Gaskill,
while assisting her with organizing church records and preparing for our
congregation's centennial. Rose Newton, also from our church, gave me a gift
membership to the Allen County Genealogical Society, coaxed me to submit
articles for Allen County Lines, and provided advice along the way. I
printed my first book on the Strahm family in 1994. In 1998, a 330-page book of
West Creighton Christian Church's membership records was my first foray into
record indexing. My first society position was coordinator for OMII (now the
Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association) from 1999-2002. I joined The Genealogy
Center staff in 2004.
In addition to my duties with the Genealogy Center, I presently serve as
webmaster for the Allen County Genealogical Society and archivist for the First
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).