Two Harbors woman helps solve family mysteries
Vickie Chupurdia of Two Harbors didn't know what to expect over 30 years ago when she started asking questions about her family history.
"I just found it interesting...all the stories that the great aunts and uncles and grandparents had to tell, I just was fascinated by it," she said.
Eventually, the pieces fell together. Chupurdia, a full-time software consultant, was born and grew up in Silver Bay; however, her roots in America go much deeper. When she started digging, she found out that four of her direct ancestors were soldiers in the American Revolutionary War, the war that led to America's independence from Great Britain. A number of her relatives fought in the Civil War and one even died of starvation at Camp Sumter, one of the most deadly Confederate prisoner-of-war camps. Beyond that, she's traced her family to Germany and Scotland on her mother's side and Serbia on her father's side.
In Chupurdia's years of research, she learned a lot of useful skills, like how to access census records and how to ask surviving relatives about family history. Eventually she realized her knowledge could be useful to others. Her cousin Linda Foster benefitted from Chupurdia's research--partially because they have some history in common, but she said Chupurdia's tips have helped her learn even more about her ancestry.
"Vickie's been an immense help," Foster said. Chupurdia helped her identify the folks in family pictures and fill in some gaps in her history. With Chupurdia's assistance, Foster found that she is a distant relative of Patrick Henry, the Virginia governor famous for his "Give me liberty or give me death" speech in the late 1700s.
"It's like a mystery novel where you're the detective," Foster said.
Now, Chupurdia has gathered her knowledge into an e-book to help do-it-yourself genealogists head in the right direction.
"When I started helping other people...I got so many questions. I thought I might as well put it in a book and make it available to everybody," Chupurdia said.
The e-book, "Jumpstart Your Genealogy Research," is available on www.amazon.com for $2.99. It was released just weeks ago, and already has eight 5-star ratings from satisfied customers. Chupurdia said it even spent a couple of days as the #1-ranked genealogy e-book in the Kindle Store (at press time, it's #3).
"Read it. It's a good book. She's got a lot of great hints in there," Foster said.
What is the most important piece of advice Chupurdia would give amateur family historians?
"Interview the elders now. You can always look up records, but your relatives are not going to be around forever. Don't lose the chance to get their stories now," she said.
Chupurdia can be reached through her website, www.vintagevickie.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to consulting on the family history projects of others, she has taught college-level genealogy courses and led family history workshops. She's passionate about family history but also feels an obligation to preserve ancestral memories .
"To me, if we don't record and share the stories they will be lost forever. I think it's our responsibility to honor our ancestors and keep their stories alive," Chupurdia said.