Yesterday was my 40th birthday and, if you believe the Mayan Doomsday folks, tomorrow will be the end of the world as we know it.
Today seems like as good a time as any to start a genealogy blog.
My introduction to genealogy came at an early age. My grandmother had been married twice, and her second husband, my grandfather, had been married multiple times. The children resulting from the various marriages therefore made an interesting mix of half-siblings, related to each other through one parent or the other. My mother, in fact, had thirteen half-brothers and half-sisters. Some of these she knew, others she knew about, but hadn’t met.
When I was a kid, my mother began documenting her family. I still have some of her handwritten notes. I don’t ever recall hearing the term “genealogy” used, but what my mother was doing definitely fell under the labels of genealogy and family history. In today’s terms I suppose she would be considered a name-gatherer. Most of her notes were based on memory, family stories, and a published genealogy from the 1800s. Very little was fully documented, but the framework for research was there. I remember helping her fill out pedigree charts and family group sheets, and even writing to distant relatives for information when I was about 10 years old.
Through the process of learning about my mother’s family with her, I also began to learn bits of local history. The Batchelder family had been in the same area for several generations. My great-uncle, who raised my mother along with my grandmother, died at the age of 92 at his home, which was built on a portion of land that once belonged to the farm where he was born. His father (my great-grandfather) had been born in town, as well as his grandfather. My great-uncle’s memories went far back in time. Where visitors to town saw a recreational park with a pond, he remembered what used to be a village with a sawmill. As a teenager working in the woods with him, I would hear recollections of his time in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Through his stories, old cellar holes became families, and main roads reverted to horse and wagon paths.
As an adult, my experiences with genealogy and history are some of my fondest memories of growing up. While I’ve always been a name-collector, in the past few years I’ve become more serious about my genealogical research, documenting sources, verifying my mother’s notes, researching my father’s family, and fleshing out the stories of my ancestor’s lives. Through my research, my ancestors have become as real to me as my living family. I enjoy spending time with them and learning about the world as they saw it.
And so, today, Thankful Thursday, I use my first blog post to thank my ancestors. They are a part of me spiritually as much as they are genetically, and I enjoy learning about each and every one.