When my oldest granddaughter started high school I thought it would be wonderful to be able to give her a complete Family History as a graduation present. Well, she graduated last year, and I'm still 'working on' the Family History! The idea of 'complete' has flown out the window as I now understand that new and fresh information is being uploaded to the internet every day. It just waits there in cyberspace, patiently, until I come along to capture it and place it in its proper place in the Family Archive. And when I do, it's like digging up bones to a dog - I get so thrilled!
Six years ago my daughter and her fiance were trying to find a house to buy together. This house had to be large enough to fit her family (which includes me) and his family into comfortably. We're all very big on family, but we are also very big on being able to have our own space. After months of looking, a home came on the market in New Hampshire that used to be a boarding house two hundred years ago. Yep! It has plenty of bedrooms.
Moving here caused the teenagers to change school systems and the adults to feel a bit uprooted as well, even though the townspeople tried to make us all feel as welcome as possible. But, all along, both my daughter and I felt a sense of belonging to this new community. As I continued to dig deeper into our family roots, I soon found the reason why. It seems that in the 'old days' when this town was being established, our family ancestors were among the 'Grantees' and 'Proprietors'. One gentleman was even appointed as the town's first Selectmen!
Surprise! After a bit more than 250 years, we came home!
And then, there's the story of my late husband's grandmother. Hers is truly a great love story. She had been married two times and divorced two times before she found the true love of her life. They never knew it, but they were actually 'step-cousins, twice removed'. She and "Grandpa N" spent 25 love-filled years together before he died. She never married again, and now lies next to him in eternal peace.
And to me, there's the reward of finding my own mother's family line. Mom had always been very secretive about her family, and my dad, (still living), barely knew them before he and mom ran off and eloped. As kids growing up, we often had school projects that asked questions about our grandparents. We never met my mom's parents, even though they lived less than 100 miles away. And, even though we visited some of my mom's sisters when I was very young, I never noticed the color of their skin. It turned out that my mom's dad was mulatto, and that my mom had always been ashamed of her parentage. Remember, this WAS the turbulent 1960s! To this day, I have a sister who denies this fact, but then, she hasn't seen the copies of the documents that I have in my possession. All I can think of now is how sad it must have been for my mom to not have as much contact as she might have liked to have had with her family.
So there you have a few of my own personal suprises and rewards as I continue to dig up bits of information about my grandaughter's Family Tree. I don't think that this project will ever be done ... and I don't want it to be done. I have walked alongside my great-great gandfather as he inspected the rail lines for the Boston & Maine railroad. I have felt the anguish of my great-great-great-great grandmother as she learned that her husband was one of the first to be killed in King Philip's War. And I have felt the inner turmoil of two brothers: one who decided to pledge his allegiance to the new country of America, while the other fled to Canada to help found a new nation there. This has been a great ride!