A few years ago, I started to try to trace my family history back as far as I could go. I had several surnames to try — Doyle, Coughlin, Borders, Flanders, Lay and others. Flanders is the last name of my grandfather, Bernie, after whom my son is named. It’s also my mother’s maiden name. I was eager to try to trace it, except for one small problem. My grandfather knows nothing about his family. And I mean nothing. He knows the names of his parents, and there it ends.
Imagine my surprise, then, when just a few weeks of digging turned up a goldmine of family history. Turns out the Flanders clan has been exhaustively researched, and I was able to link my branch to the main trunk of the family tree. My ninth-great-grandfather, Steven Flanders, came to Massachusetts in the 1640s, and the line has been traced all the way from then to now.
The only problem was that no one seemed to be talking to anyone else about all these distant cousins we all have. So I decided to jumpstart the conversation with a Web site, newsletter and e-mail list. You can find out about all those things at flandersfamily.org. Enjoy!