I have always loved to hear family stories. I remember as a little girl listening to my grandmother tell my sisters and me about growing up in South Carolina with 4 brothers and 3 sisters and then moving to Florida when she was 12. I wanted to be where she spoke of. It was then that I started asking about ancestors. I wanted to know where our families had come from. My mother’s side is mainly English with some Scottish. My father’s fraternal grandparents were Czech and his maternal side was French. My mother-in-law and her mother have found someone from one side of their family was on the Mayflower and another side back to Robert the Bruce in Scotland. We have compared a few notes between my husband’s family and mine and see where some of their paths could have crossed in the past. With all the resources on the internet now, I have learned new things my parents couldn’t pass on to me about their families and have met a lot of cousins.
Before we moved to Paris a couple of years ago, I met a distant cousin through the internet who lives in France. He didn’t speak any English, but I had just learned to speak French. So when we moved there, my family and I were able to visit the quaint town of Muttersholtz, Alsace, France where my great-great grandparents lived before they immigrated to the US. There, we were taken on a horse-drawn carriage tour of the city by some other distant cousins. We kept meeting cousins along the ride, and it felt like a reunion. A few months later we were invited back as special guests to the unveiling of a book that had been written about the town’s history. They had put a picture of my children and me in the book under a 2-page write-up about how my great-great grandparents, a couple of uncles, and a few cousins had left France for the “New Frontier” of the United States. They seemed so proud of their connection to the US and of having several of the off-spring of previous citizens of Muttersholtz in their midst that day.
I have fun reasearching my family’s genealogy, and maybe one day my children will enjoy reading the stories and interesting facts I have collected over the years. I know they love history class at school, so maybe they will love their family history as well. My youngest son’s 4th grade history class was based on the Greeks all year long. I knew he was really into it when everytime we went to the bookstore or library, he came to me with an armload of books about the ancient Greeks or a Greek god or a Greek dictionary. He couldn’t get enough of it. He even did a special report, not assigned by the teacher, for the class. My kids come home often with, “Did you know…?” and have a new interesting fact unknown to them before that day.
History is important in many ways. It tells the story of life. It tells us where we came from and may give a glimpse to where we are going. It tells what may have been done wrong in the past and gives us the opportunity to do it right or maybe just better the next time.