Where It All Started---my passion for family history
As I reflect on my childhood, 'where it all started' becomes a combination of family experiences. Many, many strolls with my maternal grandmother through the cemetery down the road from her home; family visits where the conversation often centered on who married who, where so and so worked, and 'do you remember when so and so did such and such', and yes, even at funerals. And of course through photos in my grandmother's albums; my parents' collection; and my aunt's dress box. Now that one bears more details
The aforementioned dress box ... This particular box was kept in my aunt's storage area. From time to time my cousin and I would ask permission (yes, I said ask permission) to bring it down to ... bravely gaze once again at 'uncle' Joe's picture. The one taken --- (pause for effect) of him in his coffin (???) with his eyes wide open!
Meet 'uncle' Joe
Joseph A Barnett
Since the photo has come into my possession, and I have fearlessly studied it more closely, I now believe that it is a stiff formal picture of the type common in the days of early photography. This relative emigrated to Oregon [more about that in another blog post] in the early 1900s and since my grandfather hadn't seen him in several years, it may have been sent for a momento. Either that or coffins of the day were mighty stark. I was going to say uncomfortable but for whom?
That was pretty much it as the years went by until I was in my twenties and a cousin who travelled as a truck driver took an interest in researching our family when his trips took him to the areas of our ancestors. He would always share his findings with my father. At about the same time we revived the practice of having family reunions and, along with food and fun, there were inevitably 'ancestry' conversations.
My brother took and interest as well from afar and researched the national archives while stationed in the Washington D.C. area. He too has been bitten by the 'bug' and we frequently compare and exchange information.
And I can't go on without giving credit to my paternal aunt (the one with the infamous pic of uncle Joe). She was my father's twin sister and instrumental in keeping our families a 'living' connection. Family to her included all extended members on 'both sides' as well as friends and acquaintances that crossed our paths.
Fast forward to the computer age and later ancestry.com and there was no turning back.
Now as an empty nester and semi-retired, family research has become my hobby of choice. As full retirement approaches, I look forward to it as a primary activity including trips to the local library which has a large genealogy department. And also stroll through local cemeteries, thanks to Nannie who taught me see them as places of history and happy stories in the midst of grieving and honoring the memory of the people buried there.