Sherri was looking for a hobby as her children were a little older but still needed her to be accessible so family history was a great match. At reunions, they asked people to submit a one page biography and that was a fast way to get a lot of information. This was a hobby that she could put down and revisit from time to time. Curiosity kept her going. She does advice those doing family history to question the accuracy of information from family members and to check original sources such as birth certificates and marriage licenses.
I feel a bond with Sherri as she went back to the county of our ancestors in Ireland with other relatives including my Grandfather who was then 92 years of age. She was a stranger to me at the time of the trip and also years before when my grandpa and his youngest brother were in Minnesota for Sherri’s grandfather’s funeral. It warms my heart to know that Sherri heard the brothers tell the family stories. I will have to compare notes to see if she knows about the “wolves” in our Great Uncle’s Wayne’s story that I think was just a tall tale by his father to a gullible boy.
About a year ago, my dad’s first cousin, Gary Pettit, sent a biography request to the family for an updated version of his family history book. In his letter there were descriptions that were like a code signaling that we were family such as the talk of the fowl that greeted you at my great-grandparent’s farm. He also spoke of the warmth of my great-grandparents and my great-grandpa who died when I was too young to remember. After reading his account, I called him for the first time and we have kept in contact through the year by phone and email.
|The Bohan Family Farm|
Gary, a veteran of the Gulf War, assisted family in obtaining military records including documents from the Cold War. He has honored the veterans by placing copies in the family history book. The promise made to his mother and many aunts and uncles who have passed away drives the work. He deeply misses his mom and other loves ones. As he does the work, he feels a closeness to those who have passed away in the family and believes he receives divine guidance for the direction of his work. Gary regrets time lost and information lost as a result of being busy with other endeavors. He encourages people to take a lot of pictures and communicate so that history may be preserved for the next generations.
Thanks to Gary, I have met more of my relatives on that side of the family. My Grandma and his mom came from a family of 14. Because of Gary, I read the somewhat parallel life of the granddaughter of my Grandma’s twin as she visited her grandparent’s farm. I have also relished reading about other relatives in the book and have learned more about my great grandparents and great aunts and uncles.
I don’t want to discriminate in my reaching out to family past and present. In the words of my great-grandmother who had fourteen children, “I have a large family with none to spare.” The past was at one time their present and stories passed down about the Dust Bowl, great-grandmother feeding drifters, the rescue of a toddler floating on a mattress on water, the voyages to America with peril and loss of life put my life in perspective. The legacy of my family is one that I hope that each family member will learn about and claim because it belongs to each of us. We do not all have to be expert researchers to join in the quest to learn more about our family.
A quote by C.S. Lewis explains how we may be even more connected than we realize, “Human beings look separate because you see them walking about separately. But then we are so made that we can see only the present moment. If we could see the past, then of course it would look different. For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well, and when they were part of his grandparents. If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, it would look like one single growing thing--rather like a very complicated tree. Every individual would appear connected with every other." With Memorial Day coming soon, this may be the perfect time to find out more about your family and more about yourself in the process.
Note: Check back from time to time as links will be posted in the comments for “Who Do You Think You Are” on NBC, Find A Grave, “The Generation’s Project” on BYUtv, and other sites relating to family history. There will also be other thoughts, quotes and comments about Memorial Day and Family History. We welcome your thoughts on Family History and Memorial Day traditions Perhaps the comments will never close as one can never learn too much about family history.
– population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
– population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan