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The Connection is the Whole Point

2012/01/29

I am a HUGE history nut. This is not unknown to anyone who’s ever driven around town with me. Sometimes, it’s like traveling with your very own tour guide, whether you like it, or not!

For this, I blame my father. I’ve lost track of the times we’ve “gone for a ride” to check out some place he read about, or saw in a documentary. Not to mention all the trips down his memory lane we’ve taken over the years. My siblings would just humor him, most of the time, but I always looked forward to those drives. For me, it was about making a tangible connection to the past.

So, when I fell into the genealogy research rabbit hole, no one was really surprised. My surprise has come from the wealth of possibility I’ve found in that research, as it pertains to storytelling. The facts alone are boring, but when you relate them to the times and places they occurred, it becomes this incredible journey, and the stories to be told are endless.

The young man who travels from the northern tip of the country through the wilds of 19th century upstate New York to find work and love, and then carries that love on a journey to the nation’s capitol to study medicine and make a life, only to find himself caught up in a war; first fighting with and then caring for the many wounded soldiers. But this is not the end of his story, because now he’s in the middle of the biggest single event in American history, when his half-witted young clerk finds himself in the middle of the assassination of the president. And the doctor, a solid Union man, employed by the War Department, must testify on behalf of this conspirator to comfort the boy’s already grieving mother.

Doesn’t that sound like an epic tale just waiting to be told? And the most epic part, is that’s all real, and there’s so much more. I could probably come up with fifty more of those tales without breaking a sweat. Tracing the fortunes, and misfortunes, of a single family line throughout time, is exciting on a level that’s really hard to explain, when you can look at every fact as another piece in the story of their lives.

Certainly the discipline of researching all of these facts and figures is essential to the study of genealogy, but without a storyteller’s heart, you’ll never really know the passion for it. And without the passion, it’s just lines on a page, going back through time; simple genetics, and nothing more.

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