Finding the Stories Behind the Family History

Terri Bridgwater

Terri Bridgwater

Terri Bridgwater, of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, is into family history for the stories.

“I’m just fascinated by the stories,” she says. “I mean, it’s great to get names and dates, but it’s more fascinating to me to actually learn a little bit about that time, and what they were doing and why they were there. You know, I’m working on a line right now–they’re Anabaptists. I think there was a group move in Pennsylvania, but I’m trying to figure out, why was there a group move? What got this group going and what was the purpose of going to western Pennsylvania? Was it just the land, or was it more than that? How did this group get together? I’m trying to find the proof.”

Terri’s interest in genealogy began when she was in high school and college. “I learned pretty quickly that if I wanted to get my degree in college, I had to stop focusing so much on family history. So I did that, and I would tinker with it here and there, and then really got into it again when I started dating my boyfriend, who’s a professional genealogist. So that’s been now five years.

Terri lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, known for its many Pennsylvania Dutch, who actually were German.

“It was funny because when we started dating, he was like, “You have to have a German. Like, everybody has a German.’ Well, I found my German family, and now I’m trying to figure out how they made their way across the state and eventually to Ohio, and then on.”

Terri attended the 2014 BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy to work the at vendor table for her boyfriend’s firm, James M. Beidler Research. She also does freelance writing and freelance marketing. Before the conference, she and James spent a week at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, she said. This is her third visit to Utah and her second time at the conference.

Her coolest ever experience in genealogy?

“I was working on family history for my children. My late husband passed away about seven years ago, so I was working on his family. I didn’t have a whole lot to go on, but I was working on it. And I got his father’s family back to an Arbogast family. So I mentioned that to my boyfriend. ‘This is what I found, this is where I got it.’ He said, ‘Arbogast? Where are they from? That’s not a very common name.’ So I said, ‘Through Pennsylvania.’ And he said, ‘Oh. I have an Arbogast line.’ So he continued checking and discovered that he and my children are like seventh cousins. And my late husband has an ancestor buried in our church cemetery. Of course we thought that was really cool, and my kids were like, ‘Ooh.’”

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