Henry J. Young Award - Rebecca "Becky" Anstine, July 2022
Who says that looking for dead people is boring?!?
I’m the only person that Barb Rudy knows who was born, raised and lives in York County; and did not grow up eating hog maw, chicken corn soup, shoo fly pie, and other Pennsylvania Dutch foods. My mother came from the coal mining town of Carbondale, PA and my father was born in White Hall, Baltimore County, MD. I graduated from Susquehannock High School, Shippensburg University (Library Science and French majors) and earned my Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Maryland (the college of choice for my mother’s side of the family) – so I’m not a Penn State fan.
I became interested in genealogy as a teenager – but unfortunately had no living grandparents on my father’s side to provide information. Through my research, I discovered that that side of the family were early transplants from Maryland - in the 1767, when they got a land grant for a property called “Blue Ball”, site of the Blue Ball Inn and a cemetery that I played in as a child – not knowing they were the tombstones of my ancestors. One branch of my family came from Virginia in the late 1600’s, to Somerset/Wicomico County in Maryland - for 50 acres of land per family member – they were “invited” to leave Virginia and move to Maryland where their religion would not be an issue.
On my mother’s side, is my only legal immigrant. My grandmother’s father was naturalized and became a citizen. On my mother’s side, her father’s family emigrated first to Rhode Island and then to Massachusetts, where they were politely asked to leave since they could not settle there because they were the wrong religion. From there to Connecticut, New York and finally northern Pennsylvania.
Becoming a grandmother took me to a new level of research – tracing African American families back through several generations. I started researching African American Civil War Veterans to find an ancestor that family tradition said had enlisted.
Through the years, I’ve written several articles for the York History Center Journal, transcribed Bible records from the family files in the History Center Library, that became publications for SCPGS. I’ve become more involved with working with several cemetery groups to find the burials and then tracing the individuals to help tell their stories. I’ve served on the SCPGS Board and volunteer in the History Center Library answering some of the more difficult research questions that they receive. I’ve also traced several properties in York County for several people.
I have found genealogy and researching fascinating. Early family histories consisted of what I call the “begats”, frustrated me because I wanted to learn more about the people and their lives. Learning about the history that is not taught or covered in the history book has expanded my knowledge and my understanding of my past. Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to not only meet a number of people from across the county and around the world, but also work with professors and groups who are searching for the answers. Had it not been for my interest in genealogy, I would not have visited Croatia ( I have no Croatian ancestors but Margaret Burg wanted a travel companion on her first visit there), had some wild trips to the National Archives with Dennis Brandt, leaned to the left with Lila Fourhman-Shaull , in the hopes of preventing the car we were riding in from rolling down the side of a hill, get caught in the middle of a verbal and almost physical fight between two people fighting over a microfilm machine at the Maryland State Archives, and on a trip to Swarthmore College with Margaret Burg and Richard Konkel -leave our drivers licenses there when we left.
I’ve been frustrated at times but never bored “climbing family trees”