Mike Potter

Member for
7 years · 5 months · 19 days
Find a Grave ID


Genealogy has been an interest of mine since 1980 when I asked my parents to help me fill out a pedigree chart; that did not go so well. My Irish mother quickly referred me to her sister who easily, from memory, gave me the immigration history of her four Irish and Scottish grandparents. She also added her great grandparents for good measure. Two weeks and three or four legal pads worth of handwritten family notes later, we had documented hundreds of relatives on my mother's side. Jumping to my paternal side, it seemed simple to follow up with; "Dad, what were your grandparents names?" The shock was he only knew one of the four and very little about other relatives.

My quest began with some letter writing (way before email) and some (expensive) long distance cold calls to potential cousins. I took a couple of research trips to Salt Lake City and my dad's home town of Rich Hill, MO, talked to some distant relatives and took plenty of paper notes and photos. I was having some success even though it was slow going. I started getting overwhelmed by the paper and the exponential complexity of expanding my family universe. I needed a computer with great family tree software, but alas. Since timing is everything; 1980 was too early into the game. I spent a lot of time writing my own DOS BASIC programs just to save, retrieve and sort data. Then on a Salt Lake trip in 1984 I heard about a $35 program called PAF (Personal Ancestral File). It was simply awesome, inexpensive, and a lot more functional than the bovine manure I wrote for myself. It matured through many releases and finally went out of support in 2013. I lite a candle, shed a tear, and moved on to the non-inexpensive ancestry.com. The bright side is I don't need to go to SLC anymore and I don't maintain multiple source files. I took a 20+ year hiatus to get married and raise a family. I retired a couple of years ago and now spend a significant amount of time on genealogy and family history.

I found many talented cousins via ancestry.com in the message boards and people who identified transcription errors on "my" family members. I would often write them and thank them for their efforts and we would find we have a common ancestor. One of these talented cousins, I won't mention Janell's name, is inspirational. She always lent a helping hand and we have shared a lot of research. Through her, I gained an appreciation for Find A Grave, and I think I helped her into realizing the values of DNA testing. Two great things happened to Find A Grave around October 2013; Find A Grave was acquired by ancestry.com and I became a registered member. Even still, I relied upon Janell and her talents to add the occasional relative, but while visiting my parents gravesite last Memorial Day, I collected many photos of headstones of my relatives. I found only a few them on Find A Grave, so I'm starting to enter them myself rather than deluge Janell with dozens of photos and emails.

The site asks for a Member Bio and what you just read was it. I also notice other members put in some rules and copyright information. My guidelines are pretty simple. Please enjoy your research and honor our ancestors. Please feel free to use any of my photos for your own use. If you happen to publish, please try to cite the source. I enjoy corresponding with family and extended family and will be glad to assist you if you want to share research. If I am the Memorial Manager of one of your relatives, I will be happy to transfer that honor to you. If you have a photo or obit you wish me to add to the memorial, please contact me by email.

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