Medford Lakes, NJ (WTXF) - Looking for information on a long-lost ancestor? Well, one local teen may be able to help you.
The pine trees that surround Eric Schubert's Medford Lakes, NJ home doesn't hold his interest nearly as much as the "family" trees he so loves to research.
How much of his time does genealogy take up these days?
“All of it, I would say,” says Eric.
“Most of it,” he corrects himself, before settling on. “Pretty much all of it."
Eric says he was a sickly 10-year old, lying around the house, killing time, when his mom Lisa saw one of those Ancestry.com type commercials on TV.
"And she's like, 'Oh, why don't you try that? Maybe that'll use up some of your time.’ So I did. Haven't stopped. I don't know if she regrets that a bit now—going down that rabbit hole."
His mom, Lisa, says no regrets.
"He had a gift for it-- instantly. You could just see."
Now, at the ripe old age of 16, Eric has parlayed that hobby into a burgeoning business: ESGenealogy.com.
Over the past year and a half, he's helped more than 500 clients find long lost relatives.
"It's really just knowing where to look,” he says. “Where to find things—knowing who to contact to get things. And through the years, I've gotten it down to a science."
Eric used that science to track down the birth father of his grandmother on his dad's side.
She'd been given up for adoption.
Eric got a hold of her birth certificate and followed up with the right research, the right questions and a few hunches along the way.
Finally, he found his late, great-grandfather James.
"It was crazy because it just consumed so much of my life for so many years trying to track this down, and it was just so emotional."
That find led Eric to other lost family members—his dad's uncle and cousins living in Bucks County.
“Now, we're all Facebook friends,” says Lisa. “We've gotten together. I'm sure we'll see them again."
Eric does much of his work free of charge, visiting local senior centers to help residents find a piece of their past. He especially likes cracking those “birth parent’ cases.
"I think not many 16 year olds could say that they really can change someone's life in that aspect."