First thing Yvonne Ochletree did with her subscription to Ancestry.com was search for her father. Then she turned to the real family mystery – and discovered a record of her grandmother’s never-discussed childhood.
“I was lying awake one night and put on a show called Coast to Coast and they had a commercial on for Ancestry.com. I heard I could go on for two weeks to try it,” says Yvonne. “There had always been this mystery as to who my grandmother’s father was. And I thought maybe I should find out.”
So between the commercial and a nudge from her daughter, Yvonne figured she had nothing to lose. She gave the site a whirl.
That move gave Yvonne her own mark in the family history world, too – it made her the 2 millionth subscriber to Ancestry.com. And she quickly started finding answers.
“I’m very lucky,” Yvonne says. But it’s more than luck – Yvonne adds to her success with research savvy and a curiosity that dates back to when she was 17 and paid a visit to her grandmother in England.
“I said, ‘Look, Granny, I never really knew who your dad was. You mentioned your mom but you never really talked about your dad.’” But Yvonne’s grandmother offered up no secrets. She kept mum.
That silence just fueled the fire. “I had to keep pursuing it,” says Yvonne, who knew that her grandmother was born out of wedlock. So years later, she finally dug in on Ancestry.com. “Long story short, I started finding out things. I have not found out who [my great-grandfather] is, but I’m coming pretty close to it.”
So far, Yvonne has uncovered an impressive record trail for her grandmother – she has names, places and dates and is using them all to discover more. Plus, there’s an intriguing side note: Yvonne learned in a census record that her great-grandmother was working as a servant in the home of a wealthy couple. Could her grandmother’s father be a fellow servant? Or maybe the homeowner himself?
Yvonne has also connected with other Ancestry.com members, sending notes and receiving information in return. She searches the site and uses Hints, which she likens to the yellow brick road, to help build her tree. “I tap on all of them and they open up,” she says.
And she’s made a personal connection between her own life today and her grandmother’s: “[My grandmother] was a teacher and an artist, just like me.” Which, of course, leads Yvonne to another question: “Where did the money come so that my grandmother could go to a very nice school?”
Suffice it to say, Yvonne isn’t stopping anytime soon. “I’m nosy and I’m relentless. I am going to find more. And I will get to the bottom of this.”