Genealogy: According to the
dictionary, genealogy is:
1. A record or account of the descent of a family, group or person from an ancestor or ancestors; a family tree.
2. Direct descent from a progenitor; lineage or pedigree.
3. The study or investigation of ancestry and family histories.
To me, however, genealogy is a whole lot more than those three dry sentences.
It is finding my roots, my family, and my home.
It is seeing my grandparents as a young couple in a census record with their two baby girls; children who I know will be dead within the year.
It is seeing my mother as a one-month-old child.
It is seeing my great grandfather's signature on Civil War records and knowing that he and others like him must have gone through hell.
It is even finding the skeletons in the closets or the black sheep of the family.
It is finding that my family went through some terrible times, but also knowing that they survived.
It is seeing in my mind's eye the careworn faces of all of those who have gone on before me.
It is listening to old stories told by our elders and passing those precious stories down. It is writing down those stories and facts for our children and their children.
It is finding cousins I had not seen or heard from in fifty years. It is finding new cousins and new friends, people who have come to mean so very much to me.
It is the realization of how important family is. It is the realization of how important it is to honor those ancestors who came before us.
But most of all, it is the sharing of information with others who like me love the research. It is not just dusty records or words.
It is not only sharing the excitement of finding a new ancestor, but also sharing the frustrations of not be-ing able to find what you are looking for.
It is the bouncing of ideas back and forth of theories of what might be and commiserating with another when that theory falls through, which it often does.
It is being able to say "Look! Look what I have found!" and knowing that your excitement will be shared and understood.
It is being able ask a question on a mailing list, knowing that what you are asking may be dumb but knowing that you will not be treated with disrespect.
It is people who give of their time and their energies to help you.
It is people who volunteer their time and energies to do lookups on the various county web pages. It is people who volunteer their time and energies for the various historical societies.
It is people who give of their time to transcribe old documents and microfilm, and who share that knowl-edge, whether it is through books sold by historical societies or on web pages.
It is people who go through old cemeteries and take the time to write down those who are buried there and share that knowledge gladly.
It is people who share old photographs, old letters and their old family stories, not expecting anything back other than a thank you and the knowledge that they have helped another in their family quest.
It is people who go above and beyond what is asked of them because they love genealogy. They love the fun of it, the frustrations of it and the excitement of it.
It is also the knowledge that you are passing down something of worth; that you are leaving behind a little something of yourself. It is the knowledge that through all of your research you may have made a difference, however small it may be.
That is a little of what genealogy means to me.