Saturday, October 20, 2012

Understanding Our Ancestors

Is your ancestor's hat back in style?

Maureen Taylor wrote this article and it made me think of the old homily, "There's nothing new under the sun".  I don't know if it's true about hat styles, but once you get into digging up your family history, you may be surprised how much you have in common with your ancestors!  

You may not be wearing the same hats or fashions as Grandpa Hill, but you inherited more than a surname.  You may have a talent for strumming the banjo and as you start your collection of old photos, you may come across one of your Great Uncle Ned playing a ukulele.

Family History is a popular hobby because it lets us step out of our modern day personas for a little while and go back to where we came from.  Was life really more simple and satisfying back "when"?  How did the family entertain themselves on a Friday night?  Perspective is the reward for digging up your genealogy; our lives may not be carefree but we probably are more likely to survive and live longer lives than our forebears did.  

We might get the impression that all of our people were farmers.  Yes, my progenitors were farmers, but that was just in one census! In other census records, the same folks might have turned to being the village "smithy"or leaving home to go work in the steel mills of Chicago.  Actually, most everyone in the South had a garden, but my great grandfather also sold cars for a few years and took on the role of minister and school teacher at one point!

Let's go into this journey of searching out our family history with wide-open minds and eyes: let the records and the facts lead us where they may.  We aren't going to be judging the past generations, goodness knows!  Not unless we want to be judged by our descendants.  We've come to family history looking to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but the magic is that we get to piece, by piece, assemble a jigsaw puzzle out of the whole cloth of history and the timelines of our ancestry.  So rewarding!  What kept them going?  How did they fare?  If you didn't love the kinfolks already, you will, somewhere along the journey, know without a doubt that you're related and a rush of emotion will fill your heart; they survived, they trucked through it, they overcame, they found a way and because of it, YOU ARE.

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