Monday, November 23, 2015

Ancestors A to Z

I pick at scabs.  A Band Aid won't stay affixed to my skin to save my soul.  At best it kind of hangs there - half on, half off.  Of course I'm left with two alternatives: to stretch the loose end of the Band Aid until it meets back up with a sticky area, pat it into place, and hope for the best - or - just pull the silly thing off right then.  I don't have enough patience to apply fresh Band Aids every hour.  I definitely don't have the patience to wait for a scab to fall off all on its own.  So if the Band Aid is determined to declare its independence, and if the scab is just going to sit there and stare back at me, I have no other choice but to begin picking at the loose ends of the crusty maroon blotch to see what lies beneath.

Now you may be asking yourself what scabs, wounds, and failed Band Aids have to do with genealogy.  Quite a lot, actually.  It's usually easy for us to document our family one or two generations back.  The Band Aid is fresh and it sticks.  The further back we attempt to trace our ancestors' lives, the more chances there are for running into stumbling blocks: missing names, incorrect census records, burned courthouses, lost documentation.  The sources are obscure.  The Band Aid falls off.

So do we keep digging, looking for fresh flesh?  Or do we leave the scab alone and hope that one day, eventually, the doggone thing will fall off on its own?  Curiosity, and that portion of my DNA that belongs to the great "Show-Me State" of Missouri [whose official animal, amusingly, is the all-too-stubborn mule], challenges me to keep digging.  I hope it will do the same for you.

I'm challenging each of us in the next year to find our ancestors "alphabetically".  There are 26 letters in the alphabet; 52 weeks in a year.  Tackling one letter a week could potentially provide us with a years' worth of answers, surprises, and revelations.  My personal challenge is not to find ancestors whose first or last names begin with every letter of the alphabet.  Rather, my challenge is to find correlations.  I might have an "A" named ancestor.  But I might not have a "W".  However, that "A" ancestor might have fought in World War I.  He might have been born in Zurich.  Finding the threads between people, places, things and events can give us a deeper understanding of those who came before ... and really, isn't that we'd want others to find out about us 100 years from now?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Speechless over Veterans of WW II

I'm so new to blogging that I almost decided to take the "Wordless Wednesday" Geneabloggers prompt quite literally!  However, this being Veterans Day, it was important for me to call attention to the numerous veterans who served our country with dignity, sacrifice and honor.  Each of us, I'd be willing to bet, has at least one ancestor or descendant who has served our country.  While we may know who served - we may not know the what, why, where or when that provided the back story to their area of service.  Knowing these snapshots in history gives a true appreciation for their lives and times.  As I began to do early research on my family tree, I was amazed to find so many veterans who served our great country.  My great-great-great grandfather served in the Virginia militia during the War of 1812.  His son participated in the Mexican-Amerian War.  Two maternal ancestors served in the Civil War - one on either side. My father fought for the Navy in WW II as a tail gunner. Yes, the Navy has an aviation unit.  And finally, an uncle also served during WW II, in the Asiatic-Pacific campaign.

In my introductory paragraph I shared my family's thoughts on how I should be the keeper of the flame.  They held true to their promise!  Last week I was presented with 10 bankers' boxes full of unsorted family photos, vital records, artifacts, and historical documents that should have been analyzed, preserved, and archived years ago.  

It certainly can be no coincidence that out of the 10 bankers' boxes, the first one I opened contained my uncle's entire service record, three photo albums documenting his service in the Pacific Islands, and -- most exciting for me -- a box containing all of his military bars and medals of service.  What a privilege it was to see these artifacts first-hand.  Again, when one "sees" the story behind the story, one gains new perspective - new appreciation for our ancestors, as well as all those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Welcome to Tombstones and Treehouses

My family calls me the "keeper of the flame".  Somewhere in time, an ancestor must have planted the insatiable curiosity gene within me.  The remainder of my family has Attention Deficit Order when it comes to genealogy.  And yet, they're still fascinated about their ancestry after one of my "scratch and sniff projects" has revealed an important piece of data.  As long as I keep it brief!

Tombstones and Treehouses tells the story of ancestors whose lives call out to be heard.  It combines all of my passions into one neat package: visiting cemeteries, photography, documentation and assistance in preservation of abandoned cemeteries, along with the continued search for the "who, what, where, and when" of my personal family tree.  Please join me in tracing the history of our nation, and - perhaps - the reason your ancestors' lives were affected in much the same way as mine.