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  • Writer's pictureDevon Noel Lee

How Would You Spend $1 Million...

Have you ever dreamed of coming into a large sum of money? Perhaps you fantasize about winning the lottery or stumbling upon a hidden treasure.

Well, let me tell you, my friend, I recently found myself pondering this very question: "How would I spend $1 million?"

How I Wouldn't Spend $1 Million

When I think about spending $1 million, I find myself straying away from the usual notions of grandeur and extravagance. You won't catch me daydreaming about bigger houses, sparkling jewelry, or fancy clothes.

No, my frugal nature keeps my desires grounded and focused on what truly matters.

And as much as I'd love to jet off to far-flung corners of the globe to explore ancestral homelands, I realize that my responsibilities as a parent take precedence. Travel plans must be put on hold until our kiddos have graduated and spread their wings. (Only five years to go.)

So if I had $1 Million to spend on any fanatical dream, I'd invest in something that ignites my passion: genealogy.

$1 Million = Billions of Connections

But here's the thing: my love for genealogy isn't solely self-serving. While I yearn to deepen my research and uncover my ancestors' stories, I also have a burning desire to make a meaningful impact on others' genealogical journeys. Let's face it, I have a blog, and two YouTube channels focused on fulfilling those missions.

If that magical $1 million were to find its way into my hands, I would use it on projects that serve my genealogical pursuits while benefiting others with similar cultural heritage.

Project 1: Supporting FamilySearch

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known for its emphasis on family history and ancestral connections, has a website/program called FamilySearch that has been instrumental in helping people trace their roots.

So, my first course of action would be to donate 10% of the money to the Church, specifically to advance the FamilySearch program.

Supporting a cause I believe in that helps others discover their heritage? It's a win-win situation!

Project 2: Digitizing One Homeland

With the remaining $900,000 burning a hole in my pocket, I would embark on a genealogical adventure like no other.

In Hanover, Germany, there is a small village called Gillershiem. My Mack, Pusecker, Tinnappel, and other Hanovrain ancestors once called that village home. I would use this windfall to preserve and digitize town records from 1810 to 1850 and expand back through time as far as resources allow.

I want to capture every detail, every name, every piece of information that could connect me to my relatives and their townsfolk. Perhaps then those digitized records, scanned with optical handwriting recognition, could benefit from the FamilySearch computer-generated tree program to facilitate the tree-building program for others from that village (and perhaps surrounding areas).

Hopefully, my near million-dollar budget (combined with volunteer efforts) could assemble a team of archival preservation and digitization experts. These folks would work to ensure that the records of Gillershiem are preserved and made accessible to generations to come.

Project 3: Digitizing A Second Homeland

If there's anything I've learned from my genealogical pursuits, it's that our ancestors tend to have a knack for leaving behind a trail of breadcrumbs.

And one breadcrumb that has proven particularly elusive is my German ancestor Joseph Geisler, hailing from the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1850. So, I would take a portion of my million-dollar fortune and extend my preservation efforts from Gillershiem, into the archival depths of Baden's historical archives.

However, the Grand Duchy of Baden (at least in the 1850s) is larger than a single village, but that won't deter me from my mission if funds stretch. I would attempt to digitize and index every record related to the Grand Duchy of Baden and hope to catch clues for Joseph Geisler's origins along they way. Those with Baden roots will benefit from this 'selfish' project.

Imagine the joy of discovering a long-lost relative or the satisfaction of finally piecing together the missing branches of your family tree. It's a feeling like no other, a connection to the past that transcends time and space. And with my million-dollar investment, I could share that feeling with the world.

Does Anyone Have a $1 Million for My Dreams?

So, my dear reader, if you ever find yourself blessed with a million dollars and no idea how to spend it. Please help me turn mine into a reality. I don't mind letting you have all the credit so long as FamilySearch, Gillerhshiem, and the former Duchy of Baden benefit.

What are your $1 Million genealogy dreams?

I'd love to read them in the comments section.

Happy genealogy dreaming!

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