Friday, August 7, 2009

My genealogy habit

It is ironic to me that I am addicted to genealogy. The irony lies in my perception of myself as an outsider to my own family.

I first became interested in genealogy because my husband’s family and my father’s family came from the same section of Mississippi. My husband Craig had a cousin that everyone said looked just like me. Craig’s mother’s maiden name was Dillon. I knew I was related to Dillons. So I embarked on this ancestral trail to make sure I wasn’t related to my husband by blood. So far we are not.

I also was competing with my aunt Adrene Warren for archival information. Adrene did a considerable amount of legwork in finding out who the Koonces were. This was my maternal grandmother’s family. But my aunt stopped at that one line. She refused to research any other surname. She wasn't interested. So I jumped into the search in defiance to my aunt.

Wanting to know how in the world I fit in this crazy quilt of a family was probably another incentive to me as I continued to search for more ancestors. That and being nosy probably are what keeps me going after I hit my head on the brick walls of genealogy. Yet I still wonder why is it so important for me to know.

There are so many people that don’t care about their past. They are more interested in the here and now. Isn’t that the way it should be? But I believe there also needs to be someone that keeps checking the rear view mirror of our lives so that we don’t go off the straight and narrow path; so that we treasure what is beautiful and unique about our particular family; so that we don’t forget the precious and the notorious individuals that share our genes. There’s usually at least one person in the family who is the clearinghouse of that information. Maybe that's it. Maybe that's the reason I am hooked on genealogy. I'm on a mission. My mission to be the clearinghouse publisher.

8 comments:

A. Spence said...

I felt like an outsider also within my family. Most of my family is up north and I live in FL. only saw them during the reunions and was always introduced to new family members advised that they are my cousin. When I would ask, HOW? No one knew. They just passed down the knowledge of who's my cousin b/c that's what they had been told. So, that made me want to know exactly how we're related.

Nadasue said...

I'm starting to believe that we genealogists are perhaps a "personality type" of sorts. The more I read the postings of others, the more I see myself. I, too, have always felt like an outsider in my own family, and I still do. I'm pretty much misunderstood, and I could go on to describe a lot of other issues, but I'll spare you. :) Maybe it's a good thing we are here to support and encourage each other, huh?

Jennifer said...

My name is Jennifer and I'm a genieholic.
It is good to know that I'm not alone in the outsider thing. Maybe you're right out that "personality type." Yes it is a good thing. Thank you for your encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Hey lady!!
I enjoyed that post. So many people don't care about the past--I just don't get it. We just had a huge family reunion & we incorporated the "Sankofa" bird into the theme. It is an African symbol that means "looking at the past in order to move forward into the future." We are the griots of our families--I think there's one in each generation. You just have to find someone to pass the torch to....
Robyn

Felicia said...

well add me to the outsider list! I've always been the odd one in my family and I've always found a unique comfort in it. Now that genealogy has bitten me on the rump I'm nursing that wound lovingly.

You said it perfectly with:

"But I believe there also needs to be someone that keeps checking the rear view mirror of our lives so that we don’t go off the straight and narrow path; so that we treasure what is beautiful and unique about our particular family; so that we don’t forget the precious and the notorious individuals that share our genes" -
There is so much truth in that and with that takes a unique "outsider" individual to handle it.

Great post!

Mavis said...

I'm another that can be added to the outsider list. Felt like I just never fit in. On my maternal side, I had this unique place in that the bulk of my first cousins were 15+ years older than me, so I couldn't relate to them and most of their kids were just enough younger than me that I couldn't relate to them.

On my paternal side I just always felt like somebody had dropped me into the wrong family. Probably didn't help that except for one aunt none of the paternal relatives live near me.

We modern day griots are a unique breed and it seems like nobody gets it but us.

John Patten said...

You've certainly raised an interesting point, and one that many seem to have in common.

To some extent all of my immediate family are outsiders. We don't see the rest of my dad's family much, for a variety of reasons. I suppose that makes my own interest in genealogy all the more curious. On my mother's side I've never met anyone closer than a 3rd cousin, as my mum was raised in an orphanage.

Anyway, a great blog, I look forward to reading more of it!

Robyn said...

Jennifer...where ya been at lady? You haven't been posting as often. I miss your posts...come back ;)
Hope everything is OK~
Robyn