The Gift of Time Travel

December 20th, 2013

Giveaway sponsored by


This handsome man is my grandfather, Alphonsus Dominic Pittman (the cute kids are my aunt and dad). People called him “Al” or A.D.. I knew him as Poppy. He died when I was eight years old, but I’m still getting to know him, thanks to a time travelling machine called


That’s a screen shot of a link I emailed myself with a digital image of the 1925 New York state census. The other day I was checking out some new alerts in my Ancestry account, and it came up. This is the page I printed at home, with Poppy listed as a 17-year-old student at a school I never knew the name of. I only knew that he was orphaned young, and was sent away to school in  “Boston” by the village priest.


I read down the list of students, and wondered which had befriended my grandfather, so far from home. I googled the named of the school, and found a satellite map of the site, realizing we had probably driven by there on our road trip from Arkansas to Newfoundland a few years ago. I wondered why he, alone among his siblings, chose to return to their island home as an adult, and what my life might look like had he chosen differently. 

You see why I call it a time travelling machine.

I first learned about when I was a guest at their headquarters five years ago. I’ve been travelling through time with my (and Patrick’s) ancestors ever since. It’s been an amazing ride. 

Starting in January 2014, I’m going to share some of it with you in a monthly series that I hope will inspire you to spend more time exploring and sharing your own family history. has kindly offered to sponsor this series, and is offering some incredible gifts to go along with it. 

Starting with a free 1-year World Explorer membership, valued at $299, that you can keep for yourself, or pass along as an extraordinary Christmas gift for someone else.

Here’s what you’ll be able to do with your World Explorer membership:

  • Search the entire collection of records from all over the world (all historical records from the U.S., plus records from 15 other countries).
  • Build, grow and share your family tree online, then attach photos and documents.
  • Connect with the world’s largest online family history community and find distant relatives.
  • Record video and audio stories of your family history so friends and family can join in.
  • Manage and share access to your family history so friends and family can join in.

 A free Ancestry account lets you create family trees and connect with other members, so don’t hesitate to get started. But the upgrade lets you dig deeper and reach further with direct access to a mind-blowing collection of digitized records, as well as some other cool benefits. It would be a great gift for siblings to pool together and give their parents or grandparents, one that gives back to future generations. The gift of time travel keeps giving and giving. An Ancestry family tree is easy to share, export, or turn into a book.

So, let’s get started. While the other giveaways from this week will close at 11:59 CST tonight, I’m going to extend this one over the weekend, to 11:59 pm CST Sunday. Simply leave a comment here to win, and YES, INTERNATIONAL READERS, this time that means you too! 

This concludes the epic holiday giveaway week at Planting Dandelions. I’m so appreciative of the terrific sponsors who support this space and understand how much I value my readers. Thank YOU for participating and showing them that we’ve got a good thing going here. Your shares and entries make a big difference to the time I can plough back into this garden. Here’s a list of all four giveaways, in case you’ve missed one. 

Best of luck and warmest holiday wishes to all! xo

29 Responses to “The Gift of Time Travel”

  1. Joanna Campbell says: is a wonderful procrastination tool that also allows you to learn useful things like, perhaps, how your great great grandfather went by the nickname, Bullhead, and how that may offer insights into his descendants.

  2. ErinMY says:

    This is fantastic!

  3. juliloquy says:

    Very cool. I like to tell my kids that they have Viking blood, so it would be fun to learn more.

  4. Sara McClure says:

    I would love to discover more of my mother’s heritage. We know so much about my father’s family but so little about my mother’s.

  5. Bev says:

    Just the opposite here of the previous comment…we know lots about my mom’s side, like twelve generations, but very little about my dad’s.

  6. Carmen Mosley-Sims says:

    This is a great one! I love and expanding to the world subscription would be awesome. Thanks!

  7. Meg says:

    I would love to pass along to my mom this Christmas. She has been researching her Irish roots without the benefit of any “help”. Should the fates choose another winner, I’ll look into it for another occasion. Thank you for the fun giveaways!

  8. Diane P says:

    Fantastic prize! I’d love to win.

  9. carolyn says:

    pick me! pick me! pretty please…

  10. Andi Stubbs says:

    I’ve been wanting to do this! Awesome prize!

  11. Christa George says:

    What a great giveaway!

  12. Julianna Schueler says:

    My parents and in-laws would love this!

  13. Carol G. says:

    What a wonderful picture of your Poppy and Dad

  14. Jennifer Anderson says:

    This is really neat. I have been interested in and this makes me want to start.

  15. Definitely going to check into this, will come in handy for upcoming novel research. Not for my own family but for survivors of a steamboat fire in New York City in 1904.

  16. This is a seriously cool giveaway Kyran! I was just thinking today that I now no longer have any live grandparents; how I wish I’d taken the time to get to know them and their family stories when I had a chance!

  17. Lesley says:

    Great giveaway. I’ve been doing our family history for years. Would love access to this resource. Hope I win. Merry Christmas.

  18. Laurie says:

    Wow! Love the giveaway. I love genealogy!

  19. Christine says:

    So awesome!

  20. alex says:

    omg! omg! i most of my relatives were peasants and so don’t show up in too many books. Yet there’s the great grandfather that made money working in america for a few years…i’d love to be able to know more about that story. amazing giveaway.

  21. Amy B. says:

    I love when we talk about your Ancestry discoveries, so I can’t wait for you to blog about it. (And I’m crossing my fingers so hard to win this one!)

  22. Tiffany H says:

    I can’t wait to follow this. We’ve been talking about doing with my oldest for almost 2 years. He is fascinated to learn about our family history, since he is a history buff!

  23. Gini Freemyer says:

    What a wonderful giveaway! It would be perfect for Wayne for Christmas – and I have nothing at this point nor $$ to remedy! Thank you for celebrating this way!

  24. ashley says:

    This one is absolutely terrific! I know very little about my family past my grandparents.

  25. jerusalem says:

    oh this is big fun! Would love to have access to the full account!

  26. kazari says:

    This is wonderful! I’d love to win this 🙂
    (I’ve started a family history, that isn’t really a history, but a writing down of all the family legends, if you like. But I’m also writing my discoveries along the way – like how my mother’s versions of stories are different to my Aunty Max. So having some way to ‘truth’ the final versions would be lovely)

  27. jenny says:

    Sounds great. I did some ancestry work years ago on a program that no longer works on my computer, so this would be a great way to update and upgrade that work.

  28. Gina says:

    Great giveaway! Family histories are fascinating, good luck everyone!

  29. […] the magical time travelling machine that is online genealogy. When I started building our combined family tree on several […]

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