If A Tree Falls In The Woods…
FAMILIES ARE AMAZING INSTITUTIONS. Some people can trace their “tree” back centuries into the shadowy mists of time while others seem to have popped up with the most recent rainfall. I think it all depends on how much research you want to do and how much fertilizer you are willing to spread.
Today’s world is one where our lives are very fluidic. People move from one place to another as easily as a mountain stream. Town to Town, City to City, Continent to Continent. Immigration and Emigration are words we hear every day.
Family roots today are much shallower than they used to be. Whole populations are moved because of war or disasters natural or otherwise.
With people moving around the globe like quicksilver it is no surprise (at least to me) that those Genealogy websites are so popular. People are hungry to find answers to those two big questions: “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?”
How far back one can trace their family roots depends a great deal on what part of the world your ancestors came from. If they lived in certain parts of Europe you are in luck. One of the legacies of the Roman Empire was a propensity to keep detailed records. That habit carried over into the Churches where records go back centuries. If your people came from other parts of Europe or Africa the results may become much more haphazard.
My mother’s side of the family came from Eastern Europe in an area ravaged by invading armies on a regular basis. The roots of my tree there go no deeper than my grandparents who emigrated to the U.S. in 1903.
My father’s family is just the opposite. I uncovered a genealogy showing detailed family connections going back to the 11th century. If you go back that far you will, undoubtedly, learn that not all of your ancestors were angels. I read that Great Grandpas 17 and 23 had been banished from France and Scotland respectively. My guess is that it probably had to do with either politics or the neighbor’s wife – or both. The family eventually washed ashore here in the 1840s and my Mom and Dad met at a dance in 1935.
I was slumped over in my chair at St. Arbucks sipping on my coffee when one of the Usual Suspects joined me with a request. He had been discussing some restoration on a building with one of the other Suspects and he had borrowed a photo of the work. He asked me to return it to the other fellow because he had to get to work at the Barnes & Noble bookstore.
As he told me about it all he mentioned a name, a relative of his, who had worked in the restored building. I told him that I had a Great Aunt with the same name. In a few more sentences we came to realize that my branch of the family and his branch with the same name lived in the same part of Western Pennsylvania.
We both paled at the thought that we might be related. We might very well be cousins, removed once too often. He left for work and I ordered a double espresso.
Families – go figure.