After reading a comment from a follower a couple of days ago, I went over to her blog and read her piece about old photos and family memorabilia. It reminded me of how I got off on this genealogy jag years ago.
In her article, she mentioned how sad it made her to see old pictures, family documents, etc. at estate sales or sitting in a dusty corner of an antique store. I’ve had the same feelings. Why would someone just trash these treasures? Don’t they know that one day they’ll regret throwing out family photos? That in the distant future, they will wonder what Great-Grandma Nodamore looked like? Hopefully.
But we’re human and boy can we mess things up!! In my own family, a second cousin threw out all of the family memorabilia in a fit of rage!! NOOO!!! I shudder to think what got dumped. Or floods or some other freakish act of nature can wipe out ancestral stashes in a few seconds.
And then there are those who just don’t care. Period. For whatever reason.
I could’ve easily been in these “criminal’s” shoes. But somewhere along the line I caught the Genealogy Disorder…Big Boss refers to is as a disease. I was 50ish when it hit me hard. Up until that point, I approached family history as something like making out my grocery list. Not serious at all. Then our firstborn entered the world and with him came baby albums that asked for information concerning his ancestors.
Filling out the family tree for baby in his album was pretty easy…it just went back a couple of generations…but…it got me to wondering…
And that is my Achilles Heel. Wondering. Curiosity. OK, I’ll cut to the chase…my mother refers to me as “nosey” and tells people that if I get a sniff of a clue on Aunt Bea, I’m like a bulldog: I won’t let go.
She’s pretty much right on that but boy, has that..(shall we call it “tenacity”?) paid off ! Like the uncle that nobody ever heard of…who just disappeared over a hundred years ago. And I found him. Ha! He thought he could hide from me, but I persevered!!! Of course, I got my evidence of his existence two weeks AFTER I sent in the transcripts and files to be published in my book…but I try not to think about it too much.
All this to say…if you have absolutely NO interest in genealogy,
I feel sorry for you hang in there because the older we get, the more interest we have in the past. Maybe because we don’t remember it? Just kidding.
But really, I beg you…hang on to all of that family “stuff” that your Great Aunt Matilda dropped off on your front door. Seriously. She may just have handed you real treasures that await your discovery! Or hand that box over to the person in your family who will appreciate it. But for pity’s sake…don’t ditch it!!!!!!
I’ve learned all of this the hard way. The cousin who was BB’s family’s historian died and with him tons of documents and pictures. His children thought he was crazy and one told me that she thought she might have boxes of his research in her storage compartment but it was not close by and one of these days she’d see what was in it but she really didn’t care about all of the “family junk”. Do you hear me scream???! That was 13 years ago. Do you have ANY idea how hard it has been to NOT trot myself over 4 states and knock on her front door and volunteer to clean out her storage compartment?!! Yes, I discreetly called a year later and then BB sent her a note at Christmas and nothing. In those boxes, possibly, were photos from the Civil War era with letters from the battlefields of Pennsylvania. And the only known photo of BB’s great-great-great-grandma. *sigh*
If you think you might be interested in finding out more about your family…DO IT NOW!!!!! As in, this very instant. Don’t wait or procrastinate. Call up Great Uncle Harry and ask him what he remembers about his grandma. Because I had two great-grandmas living until I was 22, I could’ve accessed information at least one generation back and possibly, TWO!!! My great-grandma knew her grandma. Think about that. I had the opportunity to get first-hand memories of a woman who now, I only know her name, birthdate and death date. Makes me crazy thinking about it…
Email/call the entire family and ask for copies of photos, certificates, letters…anything. Most relatives are more than willing to share. I wouldn’t have half the data I have now had family members not shared their “stuff”!! Bless their collective hearts.