When I was a kid I developed an interest in family history, mostly because I didn’t know much of it. The reason is no one was recording it. Older relatives would talk about this or that Great Uncle, or who was my cousin three times removed (not removed enough, in many cases). Then they passed and whatever they knew was gone with them. So I started a family history.
Did not get very far.
Then came the internet, and new sources of information and tools to build family trees. So in my copious free time I got into that, with some surprising results. Mainly because what I found out didn’t always match family tradition or my own weak efforts. First of all, my original research convinced me the paternal line first arrived in the new world in the mid-1700’s. Nope. Turned out to be about a hundred years earlier. My paternal grandfather thought we were from Wales. Nope again. England, specifically Essex. Both sides of the family even, except for my father’s mother’s side. Scotland. And from my mother’s mother’s side, Germany. Though in my paternal grandfather’s defense he did say we came west from North Carolina, which was true, though the family lived for several generations in Virginia first.
Fascinating? No, not even a little. Naturally it interests me to find I had knights, earls, lairds, a baron, a viscount and one king in the tree. But I wouldn’t expect anyone else to give a darn. So why am I telling you all this? Because of a picture I remember from my childhood. It’s of my grandmother as a child, taken sometime in the 1930’s at a farmhouse with her extended family. Dirt poor Mississippi farmers near the end of the Great Depression. Her ninth great-grandfather was a frickin’ baron.
Sure, I have an academic interest in where I came from. (and it was great fun to learn that my 15th great-grandfather was a laird who got kicked out of Scotland for robbing a church). Idle curiosity satisfied. But in the immortal words of Lucy Van Pelt (via Charles Schulz) “Now that I know that, what do I do?” The answer, of course, is “nothing.”
Doesn’t change a darn thing. I’m grateful to all my ancestors for getting me here, if unintentionally, but that’s all they’re responsible for. Anything else, it’s on me.