“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Friday, January 30, 2015

We all have a story inside us.

I've had this vague idea in my head for most of the last thirty years or more, to write a book about my family. We're not special, not famous, not really noteworthy; just regular people who lived and died regular lives, mostly forgotten today. But my people were special in one way: they have always kept fairly good records of who came from who. You might say I come from a long line of genealogists.

I started collecting records about my ancestors shortly after Alex Haley's Roots series ran the first time on broadcast television back in the mid-1970s. I couldn't have been much more than ten years old. Today, roughly forty years later, I have inherited volumes of books, boxes of photographs, stacks of papers, and heirlooms ranging from straight razors and neckties to pie safes and pocket watches, and, unfortunately, I haven't been a very good curator. It's a mess right now, but I hope to do something about that in the coming months.

My known ancestry stretches across a couple of centuries, with ties to places as far flung as Guelph, Ontario, Canada and St. Francis County Arkansas. I have roots in western Pennsylvania and eastern North Carolina. I have marital ties to the founders of Yale University, the Mass Bay Colony, and the earliest American recruited marine expeditionary forces. My people fought on both sides of the Civil War, probably both sides of the American Revolution, the Spanish American War, and the French and Indian wars of the 18th century.

In short, I'm a mutt, albeit a lily white variety of mutt. Most of my ancestors were Scots, Irish, and English, with a pinch of German thrown in for good measure. Some of my people owned slaves, while others worked to free them. I come from a long line of both diversity and adversity. Look for future posts about some of these individuals and the things they left behind for me to find in coming months

1 comment:

  1. That's cool. If nothing else, it would be a powerful record for future generations of people in your family. Remembering where we came from is sort of a lost art, I think. Maybe even a lost faith, since that seemed to be central to most old religions.

    Looking forward to reading about it!

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