savinghistory

We are each a part of history!

In Family History, genealogy on March 22, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Roots Run Deep

Genealogy…the sound of this word gives me chills; or at least it used to. Like most I’d always wanted to trace my family history, discover my roots; learn about “who my people were”, where they came from, how they lived, and the whole story. Of course that was the point where the chills would start; just thinking about how vast a task this really is, how many hours of research are required, not only looking through sources but trying to manage the genealogy subscription and its “not so user-friendly” software. Simply put, the “I’d love to know” bucket did not outweigh the “this is way too much work” bucket. So I dabbled. Any tiny discovery would motivate me to continue. I’d research for a bit and when the discoveries stopped I’d put it down for weeks and months on end. Then one day I got an email from a long lost cousin who was also researching the family history.
Looking at our separate trees we quickly discovered mine was rather paltry in comparison to hers but she was happy to share. Another boost of motivation found me making some substantial discoveries on my own. Now I was sharing new information. Still motivated I visited a Family History Center at the LDS Church…the undisputed experts. I found the wife and child of my great-grand uncle (a relative I did not even know about). Then I hit the mother lode! My great-grand aunt has a family history that traces back to the some of the earliest Dutch settlers in New York (about 1657) and was married to the daughter of Wyandanch (a sachem of the Montaukett Indians on Long Island. Needless to say I was blown away!
OK, we are not talking a blood relative here; this is the family of the wife of my great-grand uncle but it is a relative none the less and I can trace her connection to me. What I find more remarkable though is the actual connection to the history I studied as a child. I was born and raised on Long Island and as such social studies always included our local history. While I always found history interesting, studying about the native people and the early Dutch settlers was foreign to me, totally disconnected and out of context to my life. A name, places, dates; the memorization was painful at best. That is how history was taught “back in the day”. Sadly, the majority of history it is still taught that way, which brings me to the point of this post.
We are each a character in the “story of human history”. Some of us may already have a chapter in the record book, others a paragraph or two, but we each have a much greater story waiting to be discovered, interpreted, and preserved. A little digging and a couple of lucky turns revealed my own connection to a history I once studied in elementary school. I am not unique in this regard because with a little digging (and a few lucky turns) we can each discover how we are each connected to history; the grander story of us all. It is there waiting to be uncovered; it’s your story and it’s waiting to be told. Look in the boxes in your attic or the keepsakes on your shelves for its clues. Recall the stories you’ve been told and do a little digging because I suspect not too deeply buried is a remarkable connection to a history you once studied too. You’ll be Saving History…because your story is priceless.

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