Studying ancestry is one of the things I’m truly passionate about. I spent the day yesterday at an Ancestry Day workshop in Philadelphia, sponsored by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Ancestry.com.
Yeah, I know, I’m a dork. I spent the day with hundreds, actually, I’d say at least over a thousand old people. I mean ancestry enthusiasts. And I say they were old, only to add to my point that I’m an old soul, because honestly, I got along with them swimmingly. We laughed, we joked and discussed how young people just don’t get it. They must see me as old too; I’m only 28 mind you. It was a swell day.
(“Swell” by the way, is a fine word to use but apparently even though I’ve tried to revive its popularity, even Microsoft Word is unsure of how I’m using it. I’m not letting them stop me or change it to “swelling”. That just doesn’t make sense.)
The main point of this post however, is that I’ve realized the inconsistency of my ancestors and maybe that’s why I’ve lived such with such colorful stories so far myself. When I look around though, I have friends who have done the same thing, gone to the same church, same school, same, same, same as their parents and their parents before. I don’t mock this, because I honestly admire tradition and all it represents. Instead, I come from people who never really seemed to know who they were or what they wanted. Even if they did, what they relayed the family about themselves was untrue anyway. Despite that, I’ve found so many pieces to our family’s ancestral puzzle, but they were not the type to play along and do as you’re supposed to.
The numerous speakers gave ideas on how to further genealogical research; where to search and what kind of odd records could be of assistance. I realized how neither side of my family had ever consistently practiced religion, stayed in the same place and joined organizations for any extended period of time. They really didn’t leave a paper trail of any kind unless it was required for the government every ten years in a census. Even then, like most families, the data is screwy. The most consistent thing about my family, as found through records, is that they were inconsistent. I realize the times were different long ago, but for research sake, sometimes I do admire the people who had boring families. But then again, when I find a truly fascinating puzzle piece, man am I glad the people in my past were interesting. I wonder if they were inconsistent out of choice or out of circumstance. Still, I hope one day I leave generations sifting through my records saying, “Wow, that Shannon was a swell character”.
That’s right; I’m bringing the word “swell” back. One day, it’ll be “cool” again.