Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Personal History Project

Ever since I was a child, I've had a fascination with history and loved learning about the history of events that took place before I was even born. So, when I learned that there was a Rainwater family genealogy book tucked away in the house, I became deeply fascinated with learning more about my family with the weird last name.

I now feel that I was way too young to fully appreciate the information that was right there in front of me as a middle school student. It may have been due to my slight learning disability and the fact that there was so much information to digest, especially considering the fact that I had to read something that was written on a typewriter.

I see family history stuff all the time, both online and in TV commercials, but what renewed my spark recently in wanting to track down my family history, was oddly enough, when I started reading the book Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. The author seeks out people who have such a deep interest in the Civil War, many of whom belong to heritage groups who have documented ties to their forefathers who fought in the War Between the States. But, that's another blog post I'll get into soon enough.

I just recently started doing my own little research into the Rainwater family name, and was almost completely lost when I uncovered a website that focuses its attention on Rainwater genealogy. I was deeply excited about this and couldn't believe I didn't come across this massive amount of information sooner.

I'm currently in the process of putting some of this data together to track down the family line that ends with me and my brother. I've been able to get a good chunk of it together already, but I know that having the complete Rainwater Family History Book that is buried someplace at my parents' house will be a valuable asset to this research project of mine. I may someday get it published, due to the fact that certain facts are a bit off and were last updated in the very early 80's. I wouldn't doubt that a very distant cousin somewhere has already done the same, considering the website that I came across.

I grew up with the idea that my last name was the combination of two last names; where a Rains married a Waters and their friends started calling them Rainy-Waters.... and I've even told people that, since I'm constantly asked about it. But, this little story seems to be wrong, due to the fact that combining/merging last names together was never practiced back in the day.

The last name Rainwater is also not of Native American origin either, despite there being a few people of Native America descent having that last name. My late aunt deeply believed in that theory, considering our name has a Native American-ish name to it. But based upon information that has been gathered, my family immigrated from Europe, either England or Germany, deriving from an old family name of either Raynemorter, Rainmorter, Rainworter, Reignwater, Reinwalter, or Reinwasser.

The Oxford University Press actually published "The Dictionary of American Family Names" claiming that the last name Rainwater is of German origin, citing Reinwasser as the original name.

One of the major downsides to genealogy research in my personal opinion, is that being able to look at the actual information requires a price.... such as being able to freely use Ancestry.com, and obtaining records from the county that a family lived and died in (unless I go to the county to get the information and just look at it).

I'll be sure to post more on this subject in the future, especially since I sometimes come across "famous" Rainwaters, both people and places, from time to time when I mess around on the internet.

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