This Web site is the work of Herb (Herbert Lynn) VanHook. I’ve researched my family tree on and off since the early 1970’s, and this site is my attempt to share some of my research with others. As genealogical research is by its very nature collaborative, the site reflects a lot of work that has come before me and also work that has been done by others.
I’m not certain what possesses someone to do genealogical research. I think it appeals to the same people that enjoy working 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzles (with many of the pieces missing). Interest in my family history stems from my father, and stretches back to the 1960’s when he bought a copy of Bernice Keister’s “The Van Hook and Allied Families” (which I still have today). Over the years I’ve accumulated about 20 notebooks filled with scribbling, family group sheets, computer print outs, copies of copies, correspondence, transcriptions, sketches, etc. This site is yet another attempt at organizing my notes into some sort of coherence. Others with whom I’ve corresponded over the years know my affinity for primary (or at least secondary) sources for research. While conjecture, hypothetical thinking and supposition are useful – the theories eventually have to be “proved.”
I remain fascinated by the sheer randomness (or serendipity) that caused each of us “to be.” When I think of the number of people that had to come together and create families down through the centuries, that the outcome would be me (or anyone specifically) – I’m astounded that I’m here. Even for non-biological families (both of my children are adopted from China), children’s lives are heavily determined by their parents and extended families.
People often joke about their family tree being convoluted. I have the unique situation (perhaps not so unique) of “being my own cousin” (multiple times over). My maternal grandparents were second cousins to each other, my paternal grandparents were half-third cousins to each other, and my parents are fourth cousins to each other. Maybe not really that surprising, given the concentration of my family lines in a singular location (Pulaski County, KY.) for the past 200 years!
Computers and the Internet have transformed the way genealogical information is collected, processed and presented. The “hypertext” structure of the World Wide Web is optimal for the sort of messiness that exists in genealogies. Information technology has been my vocation (and avocation) for over 30 years (here’s where I work – BMC Software), and I’m still amazed at how the pace of innovation seems to increase every year in this industry.
I live with my family (2 teenagers now) in Northern Virginia (Vienna, VA, about 20 minutes west of Washington, D.C.). Originally from central Kentucky, I’ve also lived in New York City and Tampa, FL, during my 60 years.
Regards and Thanks for visiting,
This site was built with WordPress and TNG – The Next Generation of Genealogy Site Building, a terrific application by Darrin Lythgoe. His work has made it possible for me to concentrate on the content of the site and pay little attention to the challenge of structure, formatting, management and messiness that goes into building and running a Web site. My continuing thanks to Darrin.