I can't believe I'm not French!
All my life, my mother told me that whilst the Heard family came from England, my Great Grandmother, Daisy La Farre (1861-1900), was actually French. And with a name like that, how could she not be? I did find her father, who was named Obed La Farre (1831 - 1895) , in the English1840 census, and it definitely sounds French. He was also in a newspaper - the Surrey Advertiser of 17th Feb 1866. This is where the plot thickened (rather badly).
He was listed in the paper as a band leader, and he had a wife named Alice. She turned out to be Alice Zealy. I had posted a Gedcom file of my family history onto Ancestry.com and a distant cousin found the connection. She was related to Alice's sister.
She had some fantastic (if not slightly disappointing) news.
Obed La Farre, was actually born Obey Farr, a very English name and family. It seems that it was not easy to get work as a musician in the 1800's, and so he decided to spice things up a bit by turning his name into a French sounding one.
Well, I could not believe it! After over 50 years of thinking I had French ancestry, I turned out to be British through and through. At least on that side of the family. Fortunately mum was not around to have her dream shattered, because I worked out the myth had been in the family for over 100 years.
So it was a lesson to me, never to assume family stories are accurate all the time.
What is a gedcom file?
A file is in GEDCOM format when it ends in the extension .ged. These are commonly created when you want to share information or transfer genealogy information from one piece of software to another. You create them when you work offline and want to upload your family tree to a website for instance.
Task # 2
Exploration on the web! Today, go to these websites, look around, do some searches, and register as a member. I would not pay any money if you are just starting out, wait a bit and see which ones you might want to use in the future first. Just have a good look around at this stage - and bookmark them under Family Hisotry in your favourites.
For a bigger list for those who have some time, http://genealogy-websites.no1reviews.com/
In the meantime - have fun!