To many folks, if not most, who say they are not interested in a list of “begets and begats”, that is all genealogy is to them -- a dry and boring list of names and dates that seem to go on and on and on…guaranteed to put even the most energetic individual soundly to sleep. Genealogy can be so much more…
The research of our heritage is what gives LIFE to the dates and names of people and places. We learn of the struggles faced by our ancestors as newly arrived residents of a land vastly different from their homeland and we wonder if we'd have been equal to the task. Intellectually, we are aware that they came in many cases out of sheer desperation rather than in the spirit of adventure, leaving not only friends and family but everything familiar, and still probably not fully aware of the enormity of their decision until they arrived in America. Then we are touched by the plight of a father whose young wife dies, leaving him to raise their six children alone. We feel his pain at the decision to accept the neighbors' offer to raise the newborn as their own. We remember our own children as toddlers and share his anguish at feeling no choice but to allow yet another family to take his little girl, just beginning to call him "papa" to raise. And we can almost FEEL his determination to keep the rest of his children with him...no matter WHAT it takes.
Later, skimming through a diary kept by his oldest daughter, we discover an entry that says, "Mylbra Baskin died the 10th. Poor Tom, I sure feel sorry for him. I wonder what he is going to do. Those poor little kiddies don't realize what this life is going to be without a mother....." and our hearts break all over again for the children.
Yet THIS is what we are searching for! NOT the tragedy but the bits and pieces that allow us to discover the CHARACTER of the people whose experiences and decisions collectively influenced the family we were born into and the community of beliefs and values that shaped our reality. And yes, when we observe our children as they mature and notice the same courage, fortitude and persistence that saw their great-grandpa through, we are encouraged.