- Associated Press - Monday, May 15, 2017

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Bookshelves filled with large three-ring binders cover two walls and most of a third. A family genealogy tree, complete with illustrative photographs, leans against a wall. In the center of the room is a desk with a computer screen filled with information and portraits of ancestors. At an office in their home, Mike and Diana Kelly are surrounded by family histories.

“Once you get into it you just feel this bond that comes and you keep going,” said Mike Kelly. “Each person has a story and when you meet these people they know a couple of the old people. It’s just amazing how you feel about things.”

“When you grow up with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents you kind of take them for granted and don’t always know that much about them, like what their life was like when they were younger,” added Diana Kelly.

Moments later Diana, a native of Harvey, pulled a stuffed three-ring binder from among many on a bookshelf. It contained extensive research she had done about her side of the family. She opened the binder to a page displaying a delicate doily that was crocheted by her great-grandmother.

“She lived to more than 100,” said Diana Kelly. “She was born in 1876.”

The year was 1876 “Wild” Bill Hickock was shot dead in Deadwood, South Dakota. The James gang was riddled during a failed bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota, and Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer fell at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Essentially, the beginning of the end of the Wild West. Such timelines are helpful when putting family histories into perspective.

“This genealogy book has birth certificates, death certificates, christenings, names, dates, places. This is something you use to write a family history,” stated Diana. “This is your documentation for verifying this is your family and how you are related.”

The Minot Daily News (http://bit.ly/2r3jPJp ) reports that the binder contained numerous old photographs of people and places. Diana Kelly said she was fortunate that her grandmother wrote notes and names on the back of most of the photographs, something that made identification somewhat easy and allowed her family history to come alive.

Mike Kelly’s background includes 12 years of military service and 41 years in scouting, much of it as a scoutmaster. Two of his daughters were born in Berlin, Germany, while he was on assignment there. As for his interest in genealogy, he credits his church.

“What got us into this is our church affiliation,” explained Mike Kelly. “The Church of Latter-day Saints that believe that families can be together forever. I never wanted to do this sort of thing at first, but once we got into it, when we started working on it, each time we got to a certain spot we learned something and wanted to go on.”

For Mike Kelly extracting forgotten and hidden family history became a passion, an obsession. His tireless efforts are evident in the photographs, family trees, written history and a variety of source evidence crammed into binders or stored on computer.

“Why do we keep doing it?” asked Mike Kelly. “Because we feel, actually feel about these people before us and we want to know more about them. It’s intriguing what you’ll run into.”

The Kellys have discovered a search and store method that works very well for them. In addition, says Mike Kelly, they enjoy helping others get started in searching their own family history.

“We are always interested when people want to get started,” said Mike Kelly. “Some people want to get started but they don’t know what to do. We’ll help them out. It’s something we do because we are passionate about it.”

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Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com

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