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  1. When did you first start working on your family history?

I always say that my grandmother caught me as I was being born and began telling me all of my family names before a warm blanket swaddled my little body! “Your grandfather is, Thomas Cleland Hunt, Your grandmother is…” There were many hours with my grandmothers, grandfathers and cousins talking about our family. So, on the face of it, my entire life. When did I start reading about it? In High School. When did I start compiling all those notes from my grandparents and cousins? After University – in 1983.

2. What was your most surprising discovery?

That my last name was derived from “Gaulding” and why all the searching I did as a youth for “Gaulden”, past the few generations I knew about, was so fruitless. It’s also my most humbling/I can’t believe I didn’t think of derivatives/I kick myself for being obtuse type of discovery! Ah, the mistakes of youth.

3. Have you done a DNA test? Were there any surprises about countries of origins?

I have done a couple of DNA tests and plan to do more. The biggest surprise about my countries of origin is that I am so North Western European! Oh Wait! I just checked and FTDNA must have run some new algorithms and it seems my Scandinavian percentage has grown to 4%, I have a new Eastern European percentage of 3% and 1% unknown. The last two have never been a part of my origins before. Yes! I am a little interesting and possibly a bit mysterious after all. Well until they had new data and shift my estimates again.

4. What is the brick wall you would most like to break down in your family history?

That one is easy. My grandmother has an interesting tale of growing up in a children’s home, then reconnecting with her birth family as a young adult. There are some of my cousins who think she is not a part of the family at all. A bit of DNA testing and I have connected her very solidly to her parents, but I want to find her 4th great grandmother’s origins. Different census answers say she was born in different places and of course I have no surname for her. I have one close mtDNA match who connects to where she lived, but I can’t connect the families. This is my brick wall.

5. What is your favourite part of researching your family history?

All of it. Absolutely all of it. My least favorite part of researching my family history? That I don’t have the time I need to work on my family history. Funny, I want to go on vacation and just work on my family lines for a week. Can someone make those arrangements for me, please?

Speaker Spotlight: Mags Gaulden