Monday, March 3, 2008

Mutts and Cousins

My local genealogy club met Saturday. It was exciting to see all those people interested in tracing their roots. I don't know what is more intriguing--the people who have been researching for over 20 years or the ones just beginning.

Genealogy can easily become an obsession. All it took for me was finding my grandmother as a little child on a soundex card. I didn't know what I was doing. I had no one guiding me. It was serendipity that I even found her name. But when I saw her name, her age, her grandparents name (she was an orphan), it gave me such a rush. The thrill that I felt when I saw the document where my grandmother Posie's great-grandfather Solomon was sold to the slave owner was no more nor less than that first rush.

Back to the club meeting. I was struck by the various degrees of hostility toward ancestors that are white. My club is all Black and as far as we know, all descendants of slaves. One woman was very proud that she could not trace her line back to whites--so far. Another woman cried at the injustice of bigotry and cruelty that happened to her ancestors centuries ago.

It makes me wonder why I am so far removed emotionally. Could it be because I was told all my life about my mixed heritage? I am not ashamed that my ancestors were slaves. It was not their fault. I am proud that they were able to survive. I don't give a thought to the fact that my great-grandfather was a corporal in the Confederate army. I am guilty, however, of romanticizing his relationship with my great-grandmother even though I know it could not have been easy nor pretty. Mostly I just think that the whole world is full of mutts.

1 comment:

A. Spence said...

I agree. I think of it as history. I know that a certain line of my family were slaves. And it's kinda a blessing (in a genealogical way), we know that they kept better records of their families and properties. so, hopefully, i'll see my family in those records.