Mike McDaniel enjoys looking into his family's past
Rural Linton resident Mike McDaniel said he's been "poking around" with researching his family history for about 15 to 20 years.
"The Internet has taken great leaps and been able to help. I used to travel to Fort Wayne once a month to go to the library up there. Now, I can do it all online," McDaniel said.
McDaniel explained that the Fort Wayne Public Library is renowned as one of the best genealogical libraries in the country.
McDaniel said he became interested in his family's history because of some stories he's heard for his grandfather.
"There are people that could give two-cents about what their family is all about. I'm kind of interested in my family," he stated. "My old pappy told me we were related to Carry Nation, the abolitionist with the hatchet and going into a bar. So that was one of the first theories that I wanted to prove or disprove. I was able to disprove that much to my relief."
One project that McDaniel undertook last summer was a search of the family roots of a dear friend who had passed away.
"I thought it would be fun for me to sit down and see what I could find out about him and his family and give it to the family as a gift. But what I found out was that we were cousins. I didn't grow up in Indiana, I grew up in Illinois. So, it's really funny when you get far enough back how people can be related."
He also discovered that he has a fifth great-grandfather who was in the Civil War and was buried in nearby Carlisle.
"It's just astounding what happens when you start digging around," McDaniel commented.
Recently his wife, Sandy McDaniel, found out that one of her best friends was actually her fifth cousin.
Mike, who formerly owned the Linton radio station that broadcast as WBTO-AM and WQTY-FM, also delighted in telling his wife one day that he had found she had a cousin who married President James Madison. Dolley Todd Madison is a part of her family tree, albeit a branch 3 cousins over.
Mike's research also uncovered that Sandy is related to the famed outlaw Jesse James. He is her sixth cousin.
"That's a long way off the trunk of the tree," she said "I have never felt any urge to rob a train."
The family tree grows as you go back in history.
"Each time you go back a generation you have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents and 16 great-great grandparents. Every time you go back, you double the number of grandparents. So by the time you get to your fifth or sixth great-grandparents there's 1,000 grandparents all directly related to you. If you start going back further it seems to be an easy thing to get to 10 grandparents or 11 grandparents. That's probably 3,000 or more that have those same grandparents. So, every time you go back a generation you are really doubling the number of people that could possibly be looking for or posting information (online about) that grandparent. The further back you go the more people that could be helping."
Sandy added, "If all branches fill out, by the time you hit fifth great grandparents; there are 128 different names in your direct family line. The further back you go, the bigger the tree. When put on a chart it really looks like a tree, of ancestors."
Mike has been busy since selling the radio stations in 1999. He has been doing consulting work with radio stations throughout the country helping them with advertising promotions.
He also publishes a monthly magazine called "Selling Radio" that goes to radio salespeople.
Mike says he has had great success using the paid-site Ancestry.com and the computer program "Family Tree Maker" with is venture.
Mike admits that it all can be very time consuming, if you let it.
"You could get sucked into it and spend all of your time doing it. There are people doing that. I have to watch myself and limit myself to doing it on weekends or on rainy days."
Mike also acknowledged that family tree hunting can also be difficult because there were many small courthouses that were burned during the Civil War.
He's experienced some of those dead ends with a grandmother that he's been researching.
"So I don't know if I'll ever find out about old granny and it's super frustrating."