Five years ago it never entered my mind to research our family history. I had a mild curiosity about who had gone before but had no one to talk to about it. Since 1996, Rick and I have been the “oldies” in our family circle. No more parents, no aunts and uncles (oh, there is a story here but that will be for another day!), and certainly no grandparents (ah, but is this totally true? This is part of that earlier story that I will tell you all about one day!) Both my grandmothers died in 1966 when the very last thing on my mind was learning about them or their lives — do I regret that? Yes, but I was a teenager then and oh so busy with teenage-dom! But, then I picked up Evelyn’s blue folder and became fascinated by Rick’s grandfather, Dale Minter of all people. He was a teacher as I have been; he served in World War I which was the setting of many historical novels that I have read; his older brother, Andy, died in 1913 of tuberculosis leaving a young family behind, how tragic; and most fascinating of all, Dale was Lucy’s second husband back in the day when divorce was very rare. What happened to that first marriage and husband? I was captured.
I still think though, why do genealogy? What is to be gained from this intensive, sometimes expensive search? What are the reasons to know about your family that no longer are with us? I have come up with a few that are compelling to me.
- I wanted to find out who I was and where my family came from. This might be part of getting older and just starting to think about what we are going to leave of ourselves for future generations. It struck me that I in reality knew very little about my family, even my very own parents. Yes, I knew them and factual details about their life but there was still much that I wondered about. I wanted details. I wanted pictures. I wanted to know them in a sense of time and place.
- I love a good challenge. And let me tell you, there are challenges at every turn as you look for kernels of information about your family members. You can’t find records. You don’t know where they lived then. You don’t know your great grandmother’s maiden name. I assure you the list goes on. But what fun the search is to find these facts.
- I want to leave something tangible for my grandchildren. Like I was back when I was a teenager and just not so much into my grandma who was living with us at the time, I know that in the reasonable future, my grandchildren won’t be rushing to look at the pictures I have, or the stories I have written or the tree that I have researched but! I know that someday, one or more of them will be thrilled to find and read this information. It is my gift to my future family.
- This is a little secret: as I researched my family, I fell in love with them in new and profound ways. And this even applies to Rick’s family. I so love the stories and the lives that I have discovered on my search. I love each picture I have stumbled upon. I have renewed admiration for the difficult lives that many of them experienced.
If you haven’t started this journey, I encourage you to do so. If you have already started, I would love if you shared it with me! It truly is a wonderful trip!