Author Archives: phoebedecook

Musings: Genealogy

Today’s topic is: “Have you traced your family tree?” 

There are two reasons that people usually trace their family tree: to find out where they’ve come from and to see if they’re related to anyone famous.

I love genealogy. It appeals to my sense of logic, organization, and order. If I had more free time, I’d probably spend it making wonderful charts showing who married who and when their children were born.

I’ve heard a few stories about my mother’s side of the family over the years, and even though I’m not close with my father anymore, I’d like to know where that side of my family came from also. When I married into the DeCook clan, I created a document of my husband’s 13 siblings just to keep track of all my new relatives.


So are there any famous folks in our family tree? On a far-away branch of the DeCook tree, reaching back several hundred years, there is a distant ancestor of Theodore Roosevelt. He and I had decided that if we had a boy, we would have named him Theodore, but it wasn’t meant to be. Our two girls were named after a childhood town in California and a maternal great-grandmother.

Trees and charts are fun, but I’ve written before about the importance of writing down the stories of our families. They add character and depth to our history, more than just simple names and dates. There is a famous Chinese proverb that says “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” I think that is also relevant for recording the stories in our family tree.


Share your famous ancestors in the comments.

~ Phoebe DeCook

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