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An ancestral addiction

Ann’s Choice genealogy club helps unpuzzle the past

Created date

June 8th, 2015
Ann's Choice resident
Ann's Choice resident

Nelson Smith, who lives at , Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., volunteers with AARP’s Tax-Aide program, plays bridge, and belongs to the campus woodshop and its computer club. But his passion is genealogy. 

He’s researched his and his wife June’s family trees for more than 20 years. While Nelson’s Smith family line can be perplexing, he’s traced other ancestors to the 1700s.

It’s no surprise then that Nelson serves as president of the Ann’s Choice genealogy club. The club teaches and enables people to do research on their own. 

For anyone with an interest in discovering family history, it’s a goldmine of resources. “And because of the computer, you can do most of the research right in your apartment home,” Nelson says.

He’s a frequent presenter at monthly club meetings, which are free and open to all residents. His topics this year included “Immigration,” “U.S. Citizenship,” and “ Revisited.” 

Nelson’s first presentation, in 2010, explained DNA testing’s role in genealogical research. 

New then, DNA has since become popular as an instant way to discover and connect with potential relatives, people who share your same genetic makeup. has a database of 800,000 AncestryDNA members.

A genealogist’s dream

For $20 annual dues, residents can become official genealogy club members and gain unlimited access to a vast store of resources via the club’s group membership in Ancestry’s World Explorer Plus level.

A genealogist’s dream, this worldwide treasure trove comprises more than 13 billion records containing detailed family histories, more than 436 million military records, and extensive newspaper resources. Purchasing just a six-month individual membership at that level would cost nearly $200.

The genealogy club also takes field trips to repositories such as the Philadelphia City Archives and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, both located in Center City Philadelphia, not far from Ann’s Choice. 

A genealogy club newsletter keeps residents abreast of meeting topics and local resources. And one of their monthly meetings features reviews of titles in the club’s library. 

Members also entice others to explore what can become an addictive hobby. They staff tables at annual tech expos and heritage fairs at Ann’s Choice and exhibit genealogical information each November in display cases at the community’s creative arts studio in Keystone Clubhouse.

Ancestral searches can resemble tangled paths. The genealogy club helps clear the way.


The right move for many reasons

Tracing his family tree is sometimes puzzling, but Nelson Smith had no problems deciding to move from Maryland to Ann’s Choice. 

He discovered an almost unending list of reasons. 

For starters, Nelson and his wife June had friends at

They were equally familiar with Ann’s Choice because June’s sister lives there. 

They even knew the area, having once lived in Northampton, a half-mile from the Naval air station where Ann’s Choice is now situated. They have a daughter who lives in Philadelphia now, and June had long wanted to return to the Bucks County area where she grew up. 

“Pennsylvania’s tax structure was another reason to move,” Nelson says. “Pennsylvania doesn’t tax pensions, but Maryland taxes everything. That’s a big savings.” 

The community’s 90% refundable entrance deposit is another financial benefit. As detailed in the Ann’s Choice Residence and Care Agreement, it will be refunded to them should they move or to their estate if they live out their lives at Ann’s Choice. 

And included among the community’s many conveniences are housekeeping as an optional service and a flexible 20- or 30-meal monthly dining plan. Residents can use their meals any way they like, including for guests.

Living at Ann’s Choice even puts the Smiths two and a half hours closer to their summer place in Ocean City, N.J., and it puts Nelson a short train ride away from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 

The society is the largest genealogy center in the Mid-Atlantic with collections from every state east of the Mississippi River. 

For a genealogist, that’s icing on the cake.