It is now night and all is silent. I am here alone and in silence all my past friends with all my relations fall heavy on my mind. They all are gone, and I too must soon follow. To be laid in the dust in the silent grave and there to be forever forgotten makes the cold chills run over my whole body. I have a hope beyond the grave. That hope is that when I am consigned to my grave, someone on the earth might remember me.
From the Diary of Joseph Kemp, April 1, 1853
I've often been asked why I bother researching my family history. After all, those people are dead and gone. What good does it do to dig around in the past? And to some degree, I think I understand where they are coming from. I can think of a few times in my past that I hope NO ONE remembers, and am grateful that the details fade as the years go by. But I don't ever want to be forgotten. Everything I do in and with my life is with a hope that I am making a difference, especially in the lives of my children and grandchildren (and someday I hope my great grandchildren know me too). I like to think that my ancestors felt much the same way.
I'm sure they had no idea that future generations would have the ability to gather and collect the stories of the past; they were too busy living their lives and trying to survive. But I suspect that on quiet nights in front of the wood burning stove, the children where regaled with tales of dear family left behind in the old country, of grandpa's first fist fight as a school boy, or grandma's first cross country train ride all alone to attend nursing school. And hopefully that story was remembered in enough detail that it was passed around a few more times by those children to their children.
Anyone who knows me can tell you that gathering my family history is more than a hobby; even more than an obsession on most days. With each passing day, I feel the heavy hands of time trying to erase the past. With the death of each generation before me, those family stories are gone ... FOREVER!
Have you seen the movie, The Lorax? It's the wonderful story of a young boy who goes in search of a tree ;o) ... and after several days of listening to the Once-ler weave his mournful tale about the destruction of all trees ... The Once-ler says to the young man ...
"now that you're here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” ― Dr. Seuss, The LoraxDid you know that if you could take your family tree back ten generations you would have the names of 1,022 people that you are directly related to? I was curious about how many of those name I actually knew already. After a little digging, I calculated that I know roughly 20% of them; with their details getting more vague after the fifth generation.
My current family tree database contains over 9,750 names; and almost every one of those names are related to me or my children in one way or another for more than five generations. I may not have as tall a tree as other researchers, but mine is <<FAT>> ... and filled with good people, just trying to do what is honorable and right to the best of their abilities in their lives each day.
I hope you will continue to join me in this journey. I sure enjoy having you as my companions on my epic quest to discover "me". ;o)
Love & Aloha,