Two areas of interest to me are local history and my family tree. I read a tremendous amount of local and western Canadian history. I have done little genealogy research but others have and I find their discoveries fascinating.
The relatives on my father's side were German Lutherans who went to the Ukraine and Russia at the end of the 1700's. They were invited by Catherine the Great to come and farm so that more food could be produced in the area to feed the people. They were also used to teach the Russian and Ukrainian people agricultural methods that would be more productive. The Germans were promised three things: keep the German language, practice their Lutheran faith and not serve in the army. These people were very devout and so their religious faith was most important to them. Language is what helps a culture to survive. These Lutherans were pacifists and did not want to participate in any war.
Over the years gradual changes took place. Finally, it was required that the Germans would have to join the Russian army. My Grandfather was in the Russian army. In the late 1800's many of the German people began looking for some other place to live. Land was available in the United States and free land was available in the Canadian west. My family, the Kleins, sent some of the men over to investigate the opportunities. They liked what they saw and sent back information for the this large family to come to Canada. From about 1898 to 1910 my family came to Canada. My Great Grandfather brought all seven of his adult children and their families.
I was never able to find anybody beyond my Great Grandfather. I wanted to know if he had brothers or sisters. I wanted to know who his parents were. All records were kept by the Lutheran church.
The other day I stumbled upon a website that had what I was looking for and more. One section of my family had done the research and got back as far as my Great, great, great,great Grandfather! How about that? Was I excited to find this information. George who as the greatest was born and died in the 1700s and no dates were found for his birth or death. Gotlieb was my Great, Great, Great Grandfather and was born in 1791 and died in 1856. To me this was amazing information.
Now a friend read this and wanted to know what they did. Were they rich, horse thieves, swindlers or drunks? I had to tell him that I really didn't know but my suspicion was that they were hard working peasants. So I didn't find any surprising things in the closet but it was super just to find their names.