Friday, July 21, 2006

Genealogy As A Hobby

Though I started doing genealogy in 1972, I became interested when I was a child. I received a Bible as a gift when I was nine years old, and discovered Pedigree Charts. I had a great desire to fill in the one in my Bible, and asked my maternal grandmother, Adelle Seymore Johnson, what her parents names were.
She answered, "Grandpa and Grandma Seymore."
Though I was thrilled to know their surname, I wanted their given names also, but was too timid to ask her for them. I wrongly concluded it was impossible to trace my lineage.
Fast forward several years. I was living a long way from my hometown, depressed and suffering physical problems, when I picked up a woman's magazine while grocery shopping. One of the articles was a brief how-to on genealogy. This was very exciting news to me, I could learn about my ancestors. I had a deep curiosity to know those who'd gone before me, what they did, where they lived, and were they a part of the history of the United States I was so fond of.
This prodded me out of the sedentary state I'd been in, and eventually I wrote a letter of questions to Grandma Johnson. It was in the autumn and I impatiently waited for a response, but none came.
The following summer we took a trip back to Michigan and while visiting Grandma, I found she hadn't ignored me. Instead, she'd had my aunt write the answers to my questions, those she could remember. I also asked her for grandpa, Charles Cyrus Larkin "Charlie" Johnson's, family info, though he'd died three years earlier.
My aunt handed me two slips of paper with info on the front and back. Talk about excited -- those pieces of paper became so precious to me. After reading through them, I wanted to clarify some things, but didn't have time to go back to Grandma's before we left. I consoled myself that since we 'd decided to move back to Michigan, I could visit her anytime.
We spent the next two months preparing for our return trip. Just two days before we were to leave for home, Grandma died. I was glad I'd been able to visit and had asked her questions. Though disappointed I couldn't go over her answers with her, I was very thankful and appreciative of the notes she'd left me.
What a valuable lesson -- our family members are our most important asset in genealogy!


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