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I read an article in a magazine recently that has lit a fire under me.
It was about people who have dug into their ancestor’s past and uncovered fascinating “dirt.” Okay, it’s not really “dirt” – the writer in me just couldn’t pass up the terminology….dirt, dug, uncovered.
Anyway, the people the author spoke to had found some really fascinating people in their family tree. One lady profiled had discovered that she was a relative of John Proctor (the first man to be hung as a witch.) This young lady actually enjoyed the investigative aspect of exploring the past so much that she left her job as a teacher and now works for the federal government, investigating the backgrounds of potential employees.
Another woman discovered that she had a heroic great-great-great-great grandfather. He was a preacher who, during the 1800’s, was one of the rare men of character who allowed black and white people in his congregation together. She uncovered documents stating how he was known for baptizing and marrying many slaves. Apparently her 18 year old son has always wanted to be a preacher, and she now has a better understanding of his vision. As she puts it, it’s in their genes.
I’m not sure if I’ll find any ministers in my lineage (or in that of my husband’s) and I really hope there aren’t any witches lurking around. But I’m overcome with a great and intense desire to know just who is back there.
For anyone else who might be as intrigued as I am, the article included these steps to get started with researching genealogy:
1. Make a chart. You know, the typical type you’ve seen a billion times. Include you, your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Gather up birth, marriage and death certificates as well as other documents that show spellings of names, locations, and dates.
2. Ask family members for all the information they have about your family.
3. Learn the basics. Before you begin digging at the library or online, learn “genealogical methodology.” There are lots of “How To” books, or you can buy the National Genealogical Society’s beginner’s kit at www.ngsgenealogy.org
Learning about our ancestors is more than just educational fun. I think that in learning more about them, we learn more about ourselves. And we all know how large a role self-knowledge plays in mental fitness.
Have an exciting week! I have a tree to climb.
Make each moment count double,