I have wanted to write this for a while, but could not find the words.
Looking back on this whole experience, searching for ancestors and developing this web site, I realize that it has become an obsession. It has truly grown to the point where it has taken on a life of its own.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! Here's why: Through the years of working on this, I have met many people. Considering myself to be not much of a people-person, that was not my original intention, nor did it even initially enter into my mind. Meeting people has been an interesting side-effect of this whole process. I have met cousins who have shared some wonderful photos and stories, one even an amazing audio CD containing the voices of several of my great-aunts, all passed on. One of the best photos I received was of my g-g-g-grandfather, George Salisbury, who fought in the Civil War and was at the battle of Gettysburg. People have contributed to the web site and the growing compilation of our family's history in countless ways. Not every encounter has been wonderful, but most have been pleasant and worth my time.
The most unexpected and most valuable experience I had was with a cousin from Rhode Island. I replied to a message she posted eight years prior on ancestry.com, thinking I had found her family and that she was a part of my family. Through many conversations and countless hours of research, we discovered that she is related to me on both my father's and mother's sides, in fact, distantly related to all four of my grandparents! This would have been enough to make it worthwhile; but, the relationship has developed to the point where I now consider her to be not only my cousin, but my dearest friend. The adventure is fascinating, heart-warming, and truly wonderful in many ways far beyond my ability to find the words to bring clarity when you read this.
While I don't consider myself old enough to be wise, my message to those who come after us is this: Take the time to find your family. Their blood is in your veins. When you meet them, you will feel it. Learn about them, "meet" them if you can. Hear their stories, current and of centuries passed. In doing so, you will discover much about yourself. I can't promise you this, but it's even possible that you might find someone so special that his/ her friendship becomes a life-altering experience in an amazingly positive, fascinating, wonderful way. Nothing could be more valuable than that.