Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Accidental Genealogist

Welcome to my new family history blog. This is something I have been meaning to do for a long time.

I never set out to study genealogy. I was mildly interested in history and logged more that my share of hours as a kid sitting around the round oak dining table listening to the litany of family members and stories, but I never gave it more than a passing thought as I went about my business and raised a family of my own. It just never occurred to me to dig and ferret out bits of history and musty old documents, not my thing.


One Day.

My sister-in-law presented my husband with a thick packet of papers that traced parts of his family all the way back to the 1500s. I was curious. I was intrigued. I read casually flipping back and forth through the document following the different lines. As I read, I started to recognize places and stories that I had heard around this newer family dining room table.

I started to wonder if there were any long branches like this in my own tree. I had only ever heard talk of family back two or three generations. No one in my immediate family had ever done any formal research, just the usual bits of paper stuffed into the family bible and a couple of old photos here and there. I did have in my possession a couple of memoirs from extended family members and one really good detailed account of my forebears in Louisiana. So I started reading, and charting, and googling, and discovered online genealogy. The more I did this, the more the events that I remember reading about in dusty old books in school became stories about my people. It all came alive and much more important than ever before. The rest is, as they say, history!

So here I am 10 years later, with a database of 3012 relations and stories that must be told to anyone who cares to listen. I have brickwalls and lines that "go back to God" as my cousin exaggerates. I have kings and commoners, colonials and confederates, lawyers, farmers, doctors, and Indians. There are a few tinkers, tailors and tax collectors too.

People say I should write a book and I suppose that if this was 25 or 50 years ago that would be the way to go. Now though, every time I sit down to make some sense out of all this accumulated history I just get overwhelmed and sucked back into the vortex of stories and names and dates.

We are fortunate to live in this age of internet and blogs and hyperlinks. It occurs to me that I should approach this just like the old saying "How do you eat an elephant?"

Of course, the answer is one bite at at time and that is what this blog will allow me to do. Present one story, one family at a time, yet they can still be all linked together in orderly ways by family line or chronology. It will be very much a study in how best to do this and a work in progress so please bear with me.

I will start off with my mother's Courtney line. I have just seen my cousins and tried to explain all that is so fascinating to them but is is just too much to absorb in a hasty long weekend when there is catching up to do and catfish and barbeque to eat. As a favor and labor of love for them, I will try to present all those fantastical claims that I made with the attendant facts so they can see what the crazy ancestor lady was talking about.

Next post will be near and dear to our hearts. It's all about Aubrey and Lucie and their little house on the hill that we all think of as home.

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