Recently my oldest son (age 12) was assigned an immigration project for his history class. His task (in part) was to identify his first ancestor to come to the United States, and then answer a series of questions about why they came, when they came, who came with them, where they came from, what traditions they had as a child that may continue now, etc.
To help him with this I set up an account on ancestry.com and it was fascinating! Even though he wasn't our first ancestor to come here, we ended up doing the project centered around what would have been my son's great-great grandfather on my husband's side who came here from Germany at 16 in the early 1800s. Thankfully my mother in law had a lot of great documentation and information that we could use.
In tracing my family back starting down my mother's side and tracing the women back (her mother, then her mother, etc) I discovered that my family came here to little Lovettsville, Virginia (where I still live) nearly 300 years old ago from Germany and was one of the group of 71 early settlers of our town! I've always assumed long connections with our town, it is where everyone in my family has always lived as far back as I know, and there are streets named after my maiden and my mother's maiden name, but I had no idea how far back. Even on my father's side and with him growing up across the bridge in Maryland, before the most recent couple generations they all traced back in the same way from Germany to Lovettsville around the same time period.
I'm guessing I found my new hobby! I've never really felt that I "fit in" with my family ... I'm a bit more willing to do and try different things, think outside the box, have a different mindset. The thought of even just knowing the names of all of these ancestors, and that one of them may think the way I do, someone that I could relate to, is so exciting to me.
Have you ever traced back your ancestry? What is the story of your family ... how did they get here, when did they come, where did they come from, how did it shape the person you are today?