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Families trace their roots at annual fair

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By Alex Wimsatt

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Bullitt County Genealogical Society recently hosted its third annual Family Fair at the Ridgway Memorial Library, where local residents had the chance to share their family histories and fellowship with other genealogy enthusiasts.

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Donning a period costume, Shirley Miller was among those who attended the annual event. 

With a passion for genealogy that began in the early 1990s, Miller was eager to share her family tree and a relatively new method of tracing ancestry: genealogical DNA testing.

Miller, who has spent years tracing her ancestry, said she first learned of genealogical DNA testing last year when she discovered Family Tree DNA, an online resource that establishes DNA fingerprints for the purpose of determining ancestral pedigrees

Because only male Y chromosomes can be matched with DNA testing, Miller sent a sample of her brother’s DNA with hopes of finding her great-grandfather. 

Through DNA matching, Miller traced her Lamont roots to her great-grandfather and beyond. 

Asked what her fascination was with genealogy, she said it was exciting, comparing the study of families and the tracing of their lineages with piecing together a puzzle. 

“Once you start you just can’t stop,” she said. “It’s addicting.”

In addition to the fun of discovering one’s family history, Miller said there is also an element of connecting with one’s roots. 

“I don’t think you really appreciate it until you put the time and research into it,” she said. 

Miller’s curiosity with genealogy began when she compiled her father’s family history with his help nearly 20 years ago. 

From then on she was hooked. 

Since then she has not only discovered her family tree, she has learned her ancestor’s stories and located her family’s ancestral castle in Scotland, which she plans to visit in the spring. 

Bullitt County Genealogical Society president Daniel Buxton said Miller’s not the only genealogy enthusiast in Bullitt County, adding that there’s real value to knowing one’s family history. 

For one, Buxton said genealogy allows people to trace their medical history, which can show predisposition to certain  genetic conditions. 

Echoing Miller’s sentiments, Buxton said there’s also the benefit of knowing where you come from.

“There are always things you can take from the past to improve the future,” he said. 

Buxton said the genealogical society’s rolls have steadily increased since the organization’s inception, adding that the Family Fair has grown a little every year since the first event was held three years ago.