S is for STORIES
Why are we even bothering with our family history? Are we only interested in the biographical dates of our ancestor’s lives? Surely each of us is more than just those bookmark dates of our lives.
Similarly, our ancestors’ lives can be brought to life by sleuthing out as much information as we can find, online and offline, about their lives. We have never met them, yet over time they become as real as our nearest and dearest. We form opinions of them from what we learn – perhaps it may seem a little fanciful at times as we extrapolate from what we learn but if we are honest to what we learn, we are doing the best we can.
I strongly believe that our ancestors’ stories don’t have to be exciting and scandalous – most of us probably live solid lives without too much fanfare. Why do we demand more from those who came before? In the case of our immigrant ancestors perhaps the most courageous thing they did was to leave their families and travel to another country, sometimes on the far side of the world. How did they say goodbye to family knowing they’d never see them again in this life and in many cases, being illiterate, be unable to reveal how they were faring. I am in awe of their courage, their stoicism, and their commitment to establishing themselves and their families in ways their traditional lives could never have imagined.
In the introduction to my Kunkel family history in 2003, I wrote: the names of the so-called “little people” are rarely recorded in the history books but they are the cannon fodder of wars, the workers who build a nation, and its railways, the families who make up its people.
In more recent generations we frequently bemoan that we didn’t listen to our parents’ and grandparents’ stories. To be fair, I don’t think all of them were that fond of talking about their lives, and for many of us, our youthful busy-ness, and self-focus, let that chance go by, though some of us had more foresight.
You may have to go beyond your direct ancestry to find out more about the family and look to great aunts and uncles or distant cousins. I’ve mentioned often, how my second cousin gave me a fantastic oral history of life on my 2xgreat grandparents’ farm. Once again, you may need to spread your net wider to find someone who is keen to share the stories with you. I found that once I started writing my Kunkel family history, Dad and Mum were much more inclined to share information.
For those of us who blog, we have such a fantastic opportunity to write the stories of our family and their lives, in bite-sized chunks. Don’t forget to include your own story – don’t you wish you had a diary, letters or anything from your grandparents?
Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>
There’s a plethora of reading choices on this year’s A to Z Challenge, so my challenge to you is to visit the sign-up page and select one (or more) blogs to read between the numbers 900-999.
Grassroots Queenslanders: the Kunkel Family. Pauleen Cass 2003.