I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was surrounded by family. I was fortunate that my father was able to make it to represent my side of the family in comparison to the 20 on Husbands side! While he was here, we got to talking about his family history project. Being an engineer, he has developed a meticulous and thorough spreadsheet(s). The amount of work he has put into this project is awe-inspiring (and he isn't even retired!). Since he was here, I finally got a chance to really look at the spreadsheets with him. He had several interesting items to point out. Some I was aware of: we came over on the Mayflower, related to Julia Ward Howe-writer of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and to Elias Howe-one of the inventors of the sewing machine. What was new and surprising was the fact that I am related to Brigham Young. What?!?! Seriously!?! I am sure that thought would never, ever cross my mind. I had no idea there were even any Mormons in the family tree-then Brigham Young shows up? I always assumed I came from a long line of Catholics. My dad assured me that he requires at least two separate sources before he would even consider it for the spreadsheet. I guess when you start digging in the past, you never know who might pop up.
We got to talking about how hard it is to research deep family history and the challenges he has had. He has traced four branches, but is having a particularly tough time with one branch. Evidently, the family on that side has no interest in sharing details. I find all this history fascinating, but I guess not everyone feels that way. They want to keep their family secrets private. Evidently there are some divorces and who knows what else. To me, the more I know, the better. I can't change what happened in the past. I am not guilty of my predecessors transgressions. I can learn from them, though. I can study my history and grow from their experiences and knowledge. I wish my relatives didn't feel shamed by their past. They are good, wonderful people. The stories of their ancestors doesn't change who they are now. Maybe, in time, they will feel more comfortable opening up. I hope so.
I also hope you take some time to learn a little bit about your ancestors. They might not be what you expected, but they may just enrich your future.