Y is for Yearning

My A to Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.

yearn3Y is for Yearning

As we move forward with our research,  we long for the small or large discoveries that will break down a brick wall, or take our research further.

However, one yearning will never diminish, as we’re inevitably limited in truly getting to know our ancestors as people. We don’t know how our families felt about life in general and their own specific experiences. We don’t know whether they regretted the sacrifices they made when they emigrated. Or how they felt when they heard, months later, that their family members had died “at home”…or even if they had that news, or had to assume.

I don’t know how my German ancestor, George Kunkel, felt about the tirades delivered in purple prose about the dreaded Hun, as he lived out his final years in the fist half of World War I. Or how he felt as grandchildren went to war against his original homeland? Did this contribute to his death and the elderly grumpiness one of his grandchildren remembers?

Author Unknown

We are left to explore as many records as possible and reach a conclusion about how they coped with life. Our emotions yo-yo as we find new discoveries or reach a blank. Inevitably our conclusions about our ancestors’ characters are bound to be biased, optimistic, or just plain incorrect. It’s hard to say why we care so much but they are no longer simply names on a genealogical tree.

Only those lucky researchers whose ancestors wrote down their thoughts in diaries or letters will have any means of moderating this yearning. Sadly, this will be few of us. Oral histories also give us glimpses of the personalities behind the names and I’ve been fortunate to have some of these to help moderate my yearning.

My genimate, The Legal Genealogist, captured some of this yearning in her post this week.

Over my blogging years I’ve written a couple of stories which express my yearning and how I would love to spend time with my ancestors.  You might be interested in reading them:

Lunch with Catharina Kunkel in Das Goldene Fass in Dorfprozelten

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner…my ancestors

The flip-side of our yearning to know our ancestors, is the need for us to leave something behind for our own descendants so they have a chance to know who we were and what we thought. Modern technology offers so many opportunities and ways to do this, including video-clips and/or voice recordings.

Let us make future generations remember us as proud ancestors just as, today, we remember our forefathers. Roh Moo-hyun

Source: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/rohmoohyu178769.html

 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 200-299.


17 thoughts on “Y is for Yearning

  1. Oh my gosh, so true!!! Good word for the letter Y.
    I often wonder what some of my ancestors were feeling and thinking – the woman who had not one baby live to its first birthday, the man who came to Canada while the rest of his family went to Australia, the woman who I figure must have wanted to emigrate to get away from her brother and sister who were always in trouble with the law. We can only assume, as you said.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great word. Makes we think of that strong yearning we have to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers and visit our ancestral lands….and we when get there the immediate appearance of a strong affinity for those places.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. People are fascinating and somehow even more so when they are related to us. Listening to people’s stories is one of the things that makes life interesting and imagining (and writing) stories is almost even better. I guess we cannot know for sure the answer to most of the questions that occur to us as we explore our family histories, but it is fun asking them. Perhaps the greatest joy of family history for me lies in searching for understanding of who we are, why we do what we do, think what we think and love what we love. Who are we really? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Finding answers for ourselves must surely be much of what the “yearning” as you call it is all about.
    Thanks for all your blogs from A to Z. Rarely have time to comment these days but have enjoyed reading every one. Well done, and where do you find the time?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks David, I like your insight into how family history reveals more of ourselves to us. Don’t forget I’m retired now and yet never seem to be as organised as I was before. I can relate to not keeping up with comments etc. pauleen


  4. Hi Pauleen – I always wonder how people felt leaving their family and their previous lives behind and migrating so far away to start all over again. It would be a huge adventure, but there would have to be yearnings in your heart for those left behind. Leanne @ cresting the hill

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leanne, yes I feel sure they must have longed for the place of their birth and those they left behind. In modern terms, a lack of closure. Thanks, Pauleen


  5. Perfect choice for Y. Yearning – that’s IT exactly. It’s why we family historians do what we do. I was touched by your thoughts regarding your German ancestor. Fighting against one’s homeland was something many immigrants ended up doing, I suppose, but I had never stopped to consider what that felt like to them. They had left for a reason. Surely they felt they were fighting against an ideology, not the people.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A beautifully written moving post. I yearn to discover the mystery of my grandmother, where I have failed to find even her birth certificate. All I have is the name of her father on her marriage certificate, and a possible place of birth. But I would love to realise what life was really like for my great grandmother – the inspiration for my family history – whose mother died when she was four years old leaving a family of five girls, who went onto have 10 sons before the birth of her only daughter, and experienced the death of two infant sons, her husband, and finally two sons in the First World War. Life was so hard then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some lives seem to be especially full of tragedy…you wonder how they bore it. My wish for you is to find that missing birth record…perhaps digitisation will one day turn it up.


  7. Totally agree. I often make up possible stories when I find a piece of new information wondering how accurate my thoughts are versus what actually occurred. I’m sure my GGMother would have been shocked of my first thoughts when I found her with young children in a poor area of London on the 1901 census. You have to make an income and feed the children…….

    Liked by 1 person

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