Saturday, January 14, 2012

I look, I find, I research and I am amazed.

Dear Uncle,

Well now, I'm a bit calmer then the last time I contacted you and that's a good thing. But it did get me to thinking about just who have I been searching for.  Of late, as you know, it's been the Irish side because I have neglected it for so long.  Prior to that was your side of the Family, hence the name the Beal Family Tree.

For many years I felt alone in my search, and got used to the eye rolls and the "gotta go and get dinner on the table" or the "sorry someone is at the door gotta run, love you, bye".

Ok I got it, I was in it alone. Then like a miracle, a couple of years ago my brother got interested in our Charley.  He was the one who went to the Civil War and never came back.  Kind of. Now my brother is an educator and loves history as much as I do and seems to enjoy the deep research a little more than I do. After some digging and some contact from far flung, previously unknown cousins, the story took a different turn.

My brother approached me with an idea that perhaps we should send for Charleys Army records, which we did. But you know how it goes, information leads to more searching and more info.  The next thing you know we're searching for the other Beal boys in the Civil War.  Five of them, from the same family. Two came home. One died a few years later and the other lived to a good age.

I don't do war well.  That is to say I don't want to see the pictures or read of the horrors.  I have nightmares. Just skimming over the exploits of the boys battles was enough to keep me awake nights for months.  So I left that particular part of the research to my brother.

He has done an outstanding job of recreating the days of battles, where the boys were on a particular day, what the days were like weatherwise and militarily. He has gone through diaries and military transcripts and logs and what all to bring the boys and their experiences to life. Sometimes too real for me. These boys break my heart.  So my brother will write and do it so well.  Our family will know what our boys went through and give them the respect that they and their parents deserve.

I am thankful that my brother, who was once only vaguely interested in the family tree, has found the members of the family that stir him and make him want to tell their story.  Were it not for him it is doubtful that I could do them justice.

Uncle, you knew these boys.  Your nephews, your brother Calvin and Sally's boys. Eleazar and Jesse who made it home.  George W., Merrill and William who didn't. Brave boys.

That's who I look for Uncle.  No one famous, or rich. No high society, special groups, certificates or whatever. Yes, I've found the ones who would put me into groups, certificates, etc. but these are my kin. I've got my heros and heroines, remarkable people, to me anyway, pioneers, risk takers. Strong folk. Determined.  It was not easy, not privilaged.  I am so proud and humbled to be of their line. I look, I find, I research and I am amazed. That is why I look into the past. But you already knew that.

And so my dear Uncle until the next,
Fondly,
Your Devoted Niece

Friday, January 13, 2012

Digging for the rich and famous? Seriously?

Dear Uncle,

I've returned from the south and my all too short visit with the descendants (my daughter and grandson).  I had missed my computer time and was eager to catch up.  I stopped over at Greta's Blog and read with great sadness and then anger the discussion that was going on regarding whether Genealogy was a "Trivial Pursuit".

A Mr. Ball, author of a book which I will not mention here as I will not add to his income, made the statement that " Most people who do family research are white, and most of them look for ancestors with the goal to unearth the whitest, most moneyed forebears they can."

Here's what I can tell you about what that statement did to me.  It lit me up like a firecracker.  I'm talking Roman Candle, Blockbuster, the big boomers that we hear on the 4th of July and I don't mean in a good way.

Uncle, if we were sitting on a front porch in a couple of rocking chairs, I can tell you that we'd both be about ready for take off. We'd be rocking so fast in agitation and our voices would be getting pretty loud, thinking about the audacity of that man.  I'm sure we'd have a couple of descriptions about  him and his character and a few other things that "het up" folks have a say about.

Here's what I have to say.  He doesn't get it.  It's not in his blood or his soul.  And I guess I should read his book before I condemn him for his statement but it's pretty obvious.  He doesn't get it.  If he did he'd never have made a statement like that.

Yes, there are all kinds of Genealogists.  Professional, semi-professional, certified, not certified, taking classes to be certified and then there's the family genealogist. The person who gathers the names and dates and puts them in a chart.  And then there is the family historian.  The one who saves everything, looks for everyone, wants the story behind the story, who looks at the maps because they really care to know the area, to learn about the ancestors, reads up on history to know what affected the ancestors, who can't remember what they had for breakfast yesterday but can tell you the circumstances surrounding the crop failure of 1698, the Flu pandemic of 1918 and what happened at Thanksgiving dinner 20 years ago when Aunt Mabel told the story about the traveling salesman and great Aunt Gert and Uncle Fred.

So maybe he has a point.  But Uncle I think you and I both know that we are the HIstorians.  And because of folks like us, our ancestors never really die, they are just the next story to be discovered and told and remembered.

Until the next,
Fondly,
 Your Devoted Niece

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Optimism and the Bricks in the Wall

Dear Uncle,

Typical Gemini that I am I got so excited about finding Will Greene that I thought the rest of the Irish hunt would go as quickly.

 I’m sure that you also had your moments where a discovery got you pretty excited also.  And you can’t say you didn’t Uncle…I have your journal! It takes a Gemini to know one. We are optimists.

The point is, Uncle, I am once again looking at the bricks in the wall.

How could I possibly think that just because I have the year of immigration (after the famine ships) for an individual I would be able to lickety split, click a few searches and ta-da have who I was looking for.  Silly, silly woman. 

Silly right up until 1:15 am when I finally looked at the clock last nite ( this morning) and realized that I had to get up to go to work today. If I hadn’t had to work…..well I’m sure you know where I’m going with that.

I’ll be taking the next few days off to go visit your 6th great grand niece and your 7th great grand nephew.  I’ll give them your regards. I’ll also poke around the storage and see what I could possibly have left behind relating to genealogy.  (Doubtful as everyone knows where it all goes – with me- always- period.)

 But mistakes do happen. I may have left a couple of maps behind, possibly a magazine or 80. Photos – probably but there was only so much room on the moving truck and in my truck.

I’ll take the next few days to rest my genealogy brain, let things ruminate a bit and see what happens when I get back. While I'm gone if you happen to run into the Irish side you might mention I could use another break, thanks!

Fondly,

Your devoted Niece