Someone said that to know where one is going you must know where you've been. Growing up I didn't understand that. Actually in all truth I didn't always understand it as an adult either, but then something happened that changed the course of my understanding. I was assigned a project during college right before Thanksgiving. I was to make a family tree. Simple enough, right? So I thought and so I was wrong. You would think that with parents and grandparents it would be easy to come home ask a few questions and write out who beget whom. And it probably should have been with the exception of the fact that they only knew of their grandparents and vague stories about their grandparents parents. There was no family bible with generations listed easily as reference, no stories of past generations to guide my story. There was nothing but tossed out names and unsure dates and comments of "let me know what you find out". I was surprised but more so saddened at the lost of history my family had. I must admit that this wasn't as a defining moment as it could have been. At eighteen I probably had more tenacity for uncovering the past then I do now. But what I lack in fortitude I find that I must now make up for in patience which honestly has never been my strong suite.
However, this moment did impact those around me. My dad took up the cause as well as one of my older cousins. They dug into the history of where we came from with gusto and a few months later put down their shovels with just as much energy. It was tedious work and with jobs and kids and life continuing to move researching our families roots became a weekend project that always got pushed to the side. They continued sporatically but not with any kind of purpose or map. When they thought to ask questions they did and when they passed a website that promised information they looked but nothing was really getting documented. Then one day not many years ago they decided to pull out their weekend project and make it a priority. They went to meetings and listened to ideas and even took a trip or two but still it was so going and I would listen with half an ear and contribute when I saw a chance.
Then I lost a family member. I wasn't as close to them as I should have been but it woke me up to what I was missing. As I stood there with my two female cousins and my one aunt we realized that between the four of us we were the only females left from my mother's side of the family. My mom, grandmother, and great grandmother had all passed on and we were it. Though our ages ranged from mid fifties to late twenties this was the end of a line. Sure I have male cousins to carry on the family line but as for women, the barrers and remembers of history, we were all that stood and we knew next to nothing.
I was sad that I when I had recieved my project in college I hadn't taken it as seriously as I should. Then I had other relatives that might have known more or at the very least had additional names to fuel my search but I had waited and I was fortunate that it wasn't to late. I started looking at my father's papers and realized that although he had looked into my mother's side most of his journey was on his side of the tree. This left branches full of information and no one pulling the fruit. I took it upon myself to begin again. I found my old tree that had as much information as I had tried to gather, barely three generations, and set out to begin again.
It had been almost a year and I can't say that I have gone all that much further than when I started and I began to think that maybe that had to do with not having a map; an idea if you will. So I decided that since everyone has a blog out in cyberland about every topic know to man I would start one too. This way I can keep myself on track and be able to look back at the progress I've made. I am also hoping that maybe through what I discover about researching genealogy I might just be able to help someone else.
We have to look back to understand and to know but mostly we have to look back to grow. That's my believe and my roadmap. I hope you will join me for the journey.