I should’ve known that when I started actually writing biographical sketches on my ancestors it would end up being a bigger job than I was allowing myself to believe. I’m just one of those people who simply can’t leave a single stone unturned.
Ancestry.com has these television ads in which someone describes inputting a little information, and then a little leaf appears in the corner and when you click on it, it sends you down a path of discovery. I don’t call it a “path of discovery.” In my house, when I log on and start clicking, I’m “going down the rabbit hole.” The moment I go in, I know it’ll be hours before I come out again.
For a research nerd like me, ancestry.com was a springboard for the research I began over 20 years ago in college. Back then, I sat in the dark in musty library basements, scrolling through miles of microfilm and microfiche, squinting to make out century-old handwriting and digging for dimes to feed the copy machine out of the bottom of my backpack.
Entering the massive amount of information I had collected was cathartic in some ways. I’ve never had a close extended family, and genealogical research is a way of bringing all those people who’s DNA I carry inside me closer to me. I know that I am connected to each and every one of them… “Each branch a part of a part of me.” Their accomplishments are my accomplishments, and I smile when I see their footprint on the earth.
In researching my great grandfather, I am learning so much. I’m not done yet because there are still rocks to be turned over and other passages within this rabbit hole to explore. It was my intention to delay publication of a piece until I was sure there was nothing left to be found. But, because I refuse to believe that there is ever an end, I will have to settle with posting smaller “chapters” rather than my Magnus Opus on each leaf of the tree.
I hope that other people will enjoy all these great stories I am uncovering, and I hope that they will inspire you to go down your own rabbit holes. While I don’t believe that it’s true that we need to know where we come from in order to know who we are or where our lives will take us, I do think it is a lot of fun.