Building a Family Tree When You Hate the Outdoors

My mom would have to correct me, but I’m fairly certain my first family tree project was in the second grade and involved a drawing of an actual tree with apples on which you were supposed to write the names of your forebears. I’m fairly certain it only contained me, my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents. This is for the best. My family is very large and ain’t nobody got time to help a seven-year-old write dozens of names on apples.

The next time would be in my teen years. This was when I learned that my great-uncle was not actually named Cotton. His name was Duane. Duane? Who the hell is Duane? I dismissed it as a lie. I did another family tree project in college. A Powerpoint presentation complete with music and photos. Who needs apples when you have MS Paint and Kazaa?!

In the meantime I’ve asked for family histories and my Nanny (paternal grandmother) told me on more than one occasion that she had loads of family history information tucked away somewhere. I’ve never seen it. So, Daddy, if you find it, send it my way.

Now I have a little more time on my hands and more information at my disposal, especially if I’m willing to pay for it without the guarantee it will actually be received.

It’s time to get serious. Well, more serious anyway. It’s a hobby, not a job, after all.

Starting is easy. I know my name. You laugh, but it is a complicated name, especially when legal documents are set before me.

My name is Chelsea LaRae Rather LaBouff.

I gave up Chelsea in 7th grade as a first-of-many identity crisis, and also because screw you, Chelsea Clinton. Timing is everything. My maiden name is Rather, which I decided to keep when I got married even though I was taking my husband’s name. I didn’t want to hyphenate for some reason so I kept it as a middle name.

The consequence of these decisions is that my name can currently be found in several configurations:

  • Chelsea LaRae Rather LaBouff
  • C. LaRae LaBouff
  • LaRae R. LaBouff
  • LaRae LaBouff
  • Chelsea L. LaBouff

It’s a fun game.

Knowing this about myself makes me wary of completing an accurate documentation of my family history. For instance, a primary search has already led me to inaccuracies.

For one, there is a record for a Norma Rather at my Nanny’s address. Her name was Noma. For another, My Grampo, William Thomas Baxter (maternal grandfather), had seven siblings. Mildred, Jane, Pat, Judy, Max, Danny & Jerry. The version has two of these and then added some on.

I knew this tree was going to require a lot of maintenance. It’s apparently going to require trimming as well.