Saturday, May 9, 2009

Our family histories

Shirley Abbott, in Womenfolks Growing Up Down South writes that "We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. These spirits form our lives, and they may reveal themselves in mere trivialities -- a quirk of speech, a way of folding a shirt. From the earliest days of my life, I encountered the past at every turn, in every season. Like any properly brought up Southern girl, I used to spend a lot of time in graveyards."

Perhaps learning about our heritage - about our ancestors - gives us insight as to who we are. Maybe we are just curious folks who like learning about our ancestors and solving puzzles. Perhaps there is something familiar in a child that reminds us of a grandmother or an aunt or a mother and we want to know more.

I became interested in learning more about my heritage about the time my last child was graduating from high school - and then I was off and running. I couldn't learn enough and I have never lost the desire to learn more. And more.

Several years ago I read a letter my great-grandmother wrote about coming to Texas from Arkansas with wagons, kids, horses, pots and pans (and a daughter's suitor following on horseback until he became disheartened - and sadly, he went back to Arkansas and killed himself). This great-grandmother wrote about the Cherokee Indians coming to their camp while her husband and sons were gone - whooping and hollering and knocking over her large kettle of boiling water which she prepared for washing clothes and how angry she was.

They camped in many places before settling for a brief period of time in Oklahoma (for the birth of twins), then Texas and later Lincoln County, New Mexico and finally in Colfax County, New Mexico. She wrote that Pat Garrett came by, offering his help with whatever she might need while the menfolks were gone. This great grandmother lived until she was 90+ and walked to the post office each and every day and kept a fine home. She saw her brother Darl killed in the front yard of their Bentonville, Arkansas home by 'bushwhackers' during the Civil War. She had many stories.

We all have a story to tell. I treasure the generous genealogy friends I've made through the years as we have shared our research. This 'hobby' has enriched my life and I have learned much about my family and about history and about friends.

My Irish Ancestor Alexander Glenn

My Scottish Ancestor Thomas Culwell

My French ancestor Daniel Jouet

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