I have been enjoying working on my family history these cool and rainy days when I really don't want to get wet unless it is by taking a nice hot shower. I have been told, over the years, that I should not worry about going out in the rain because I most definitely am not made of sugar, and therefore will not melt, but all the same, walking in the rain is not a favorite pastime of mine. So here at my computer I sit, delving into the lives of so many who have gone before me.
I marvel at the strength of some of these people. Those who, in the early 1600's, came to these shores by ship from Scotland and England, others who traveled by covered wagon from Indiana to Minnesota, and later, those who left the southern part of this state to make a home in the forests of northern Minnesota, at a time when roads were nearly nonexistent. Their courage is amazing.
Unlike many who seek their ancestors, I don't do it through rose colored glasses. Most were fine, upstanding individuals who went on to raise families and have descendants of whom they would be proud. But now and then I come upon a scoundrel, and it is fun for me to gather information about these folks. Especially if said scoundrel belongs to a branch of my family that has become name proud and firmly believes that each and every member of this family would qualify for sainthood. I can't help it. My sense of humor gets in the way of that sort of pride.
Another family researcher wrote about the sterling qualities of an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. Granted, he fought in many major battles, many of which are written into books on that subject. But this particular researcher neglected to mention that this same ancestor was busted down to Private and lost three months pay for being drunk on guard duty.
Another ancestor was such a nasty drunk that he was forced to leave the village where he lived. According to various court records, he had numerous altercations with neighbors and it seems that they got tired of dealing with him. I am happy to report that that was the only instance I have found of a family member being ridden out of town on a rail.
One branch of my family had an inclination to marry within the family. I realize that a couple of hundred years ago the gene pool was pretty small and there may not have been all that many to choose from. But many in this family seemed to prefer cousins. I sometimes wonder why I wasn't born with one eye in the middle of my forehead and three ears. But it seems that this inclination died out in later generations.
There is no disrespect for these ancestors of mine. But while looking for facts from the past I have found that many genealogists brag that their ancestors came over on the Mayflower, traveled west with Lewis and Clark, were heroic beyond belief in war time, or were sired by royalty. My scoundrels tend to keep any bragging to a minimum. They keep me grounded and make them more real to me as people who were human and had the faults of humanity.
And they most definitely make things more interesting.
Usually, of an evening, after my dishes are done, after the dogs have had their nightly snoogles and pets and the cat has had my undivided attention for a time, I will settle down to a few hours of relaxation. I don't care to just sit, for that makes me a bit crazy, so I will sew or crochet or read others blogs or maybe a good book. But lately I have felt the need to get back to working on my family history. I have shamefully neglected it for quite some time and in an ill-conceived idea of combining two of my genealogy programs into one, I pretty much screwed up both of them yesterday, making it necessary to start again with the entering of information.
Thankfully, I have an external hard drive that contains most of what I messed up, along with the files and photos stored in my computer, so the job isn't all that daunting.....just time consuming. After I had grumbled a while about my lack of foresight as to what would happen when combining programs, and about the time it takes to enter everything the right way, I got to thinking that some of my ancestors have waited several centuries to be acknowledged. I guess with that in mind, a few days of work on my part isn't all that important.
I also found the following on my external hard drive. I saved it a few years ago and had forgotten about it. I thought I might share it, for it expresses how I feel about my family history.
We Are The Chosen
In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.
Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.
We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us, "Tell our story." So, we do.
In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, "You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us." How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.
It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen.
The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish, how they contributed to what we are today.
It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.
It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth, without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do.
With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.
It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers.
That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those whom we had never known before.
As each of my years fly on by, and indeed they do seem to fly these days, it becomes more important than ever to me to complete as much of this family research as I can. I worry sometimes that none of my descendants will care enough to continue this journey after I am gone. I hope and pray that at least one will be "The Chosen."
It's that time of year again for one of my most favorite things to do - attend my granddaughters dance recital. This year, there were a couple of bonuses for me.
The first was when David and Jacob picked me up about noon. After we arrived at their home, Jacob and I had a great afternoon. We helped his Dad plant corn in the garden. Well, Jacob helped and Grandma did what she does best - supervise. Jacob showed me how high he could go on his swing and how far he could fly when he jumped off. He flies pretty well. And he showed me how high his toy rocket could fly and how well he can catch a ball with his baseball glove. We played some board games and I was trounced, and we read books and watched a little TV together. It was a busy afternoon that I thoroughly enjoyed. And in between all the activities that Jacob had for us, it was really nice to be able to sit with my son and just talk. We don't get a chance to do that very often.
Then, after a grilled chicken supper, it was on to the recital. David was running a few minutes late, which is understandable when you are dealing with a slow Mom and an active 5 year old! Unfortunately, about half-way to the school where the recital is held, we discovered that our tickets were sitting on the kitchen counter back at the house, which did us no good at all. So after backtracking to retrieve the tickets, we still managed to arrived in time.
The recital was wonderful. Both of my beautiful granddaughters (Yes. I am bragging. Grandmas get to brag. It says so in the bylaws.) are on competition teams, and this year I got to see some of the dances they performed at the various competitions. I think that this recital featured more of the competition teams dances than had previous recitals. Because I can't get to their competitions, this was extra special fun for me to see them dance these dances in person. They were great! I loved every second of it. I am so proud of these two girls, who put their hearts and souls into their art, and it shows.
A lot of credit has to go to Boston and Maddie's parents. Not only do they run them back and forth for practice sessions and lessons at the Jete Dance Centre, but they spend many weekends at competitions with them. And Staci is with the girls backstage, helping with costume changes and hair styles for each number. David always participates in the "Daddy - Daughter Dance" which is really fun to see.
There is another bonus for me at recital time. I get to see people that I rarely have the chance to see at other times. Staci's parents were there and it is always good for me when I can see them. This year, two of the girls Great-Aunts attended as well. They were seated in a location too far away for conversation, but afterward Janet took her sister, Jeanine home, and then drove me home as well. We all had time then for a nice chat. I was so glad that they were able to be there.
I just can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday, and I am making my reservation for next year. Wouldn't miss it for anything!
I had to call my phone company yesterday. I hadn't received my bill in the mail for this month. The girl who answered my call was very helpful and within a couple of minutes I had the problem straightened out.
But then came the obligatory selling of new and improved services to the customer, which is me! The poor girl didn't know who she was dealing with.
She wanted me to switch from whatever television cable service I had, to the one her company was offering. I told her that I didn't subscribe to a cable service. She said that I must have a satellite service, to which I replied that no, I didn't have satellite, either. Well, how did I watch TV without cable or satellite? I told her that I have an inside antenna that picks up a couple of local stations and PBS. Well, she said, don't you have favorite shows you want to watch every week? I told her that I run my TV maybe a couple of hours each month and that I don't have favorite programs except maybe Antiques Roadshow, and I watch that on my computer.
So we moved on to the telephone services offered, which are many. She carefully explained each one and told me about the huge savings that I would have by spending more money on more services. When she was finished, I gently told her that I was completely happy with the few services I ordered originally, thank you very much.
Then we talked about cell phones. She explained to me about all of the wonderful services that could be mine for my cell phone. I thought she was going to cry when I told her as nicely as I could that I didn't have a cell phone. But everyone has a cell phone, she told me. Not me, I told her. But what happens when your car breaks down on the freeway, she wanted to know. I think I pushed her over the edge when I told her that I don't own a car, either.
And just so my family doesn't panic... no, it is not mine. I know that I have dragged home a variety of four-footed furry friends over the years, but not this time.
My friend and former employer, Starla, got the Sugar Glider a couple of weeks ago, so I had to go down to her shop next door to see it. I didn't think that there was anyone worse than me for dragging home animals, but I think she has me beat. She told me that Sugar Gliders stay small and that they can glide through the air like a flying squirrel. They also like to spend time in pouches. She had found some, but they were expensive, so she asked me would I sew up some pouches for her if she bought some fabric. So that's what I've been doing for the last couple of days.
The pouches are lined and the strings are long enough for Starla to tie around her neck to carry the Glider that way to help it bond with her, or they can be tied to the top of the cage for it to sleep in. It is a good thing that I made fourteen of the pouches, for by the time I finished them, she had gotten a second Glider. It seems that they do better if there are more than just one. It was kind of fun to do something a bit different from the routine, and gave me an excellent excuse to put off the rest of my spring cleaning for a couple of days!
I won't be getting a Sugar Glider because I have visiting rights. And that is enough.
Mom of four and Grandma of six, who writes about family events both past and present as well as anything else that happens to come to mind, shares new photos as well as old and who enjoys life in general.