It seemed harmless enough when Buck asked me to help him find the maiden name of a long-lost great-great aunt.
That was days ago, the original search forgotten as I wandered through Buck's family tree and my own.
I've been lost among "the begats." I knew that a large subculture of genealogy buffs existed, but the first time I have time-traveled the labyrinth myself. It was a dizzying, seductive, and exhausting trip. I returned covered in gold dust, some small pyrite nuggets in my pocket.
I filled up my backpack with fabulous names*, more questions than answers, and thoughts about genealogical searches of future generations. The landscape will be very different from the dry and dusty desert I have lived in the past week, where the occasional document or letter represented a virtual oasis, opening up a narrow peep-hole into an older time.
Future searchers will have a surfeit of blogs, photo and video galleries, social networking sites, virtual scrapbooks, and probably, on-line medical records that someone will find a way to sell.
*In the "most exuberant" name category, I found "Bowie Crockett Travis," nephew of my Great-Great Uncle Col. William Barret Travis.