The Piety of My Forefathers

I am in process of rebuilding my website and am writing about my paternal line and discernment keeps drifting through my mind.  Specifically it is an acknowledgement on my part that many of the base tenets of my life were actually present and operating in my paternal 4 times great grandfather’s life also as witnessed and noted by his grandson in the 1850s.  Without fast forwarding, these traits and beliefs seem to have been in operation throughout my paternal lineage, at least back to 1739.  I have no wonder any more of why I prefer the uncluttered, simple life and life styles.  In reflection, those times I have wandered from this are the times that life did not treat me well, or at least as well as I was expecting.  In my middle 30s, I consciously and decidedly took to answer the personal questions of “Where did I come from?”, “Where am I at?”, and “Where am I going?” that seems to direct my thinking even today, some time later.  Quoting the author’s opening paragraph of his Preface to “The Annals of the Harbaugh Family in America from 1736 to 1856” – “The annals of a family are interesting and sacred to its members alone, and a stranger doth not intermeddle therewith.  To cherish the memory of our ancestors is a plain dictate of piety.  Only those who care not for their destiny can be careless as to their origin.  He that forgets his ancestors is either stupid or wicked or both.”  I may not use the hard hitting adjectives as my ancestors did in the early decades of this country’s history, but I certainly agree with the message.

From a genealogist’s point of view, the nuggets of family history rising out of the past are a treasure to be cherished in his or her work.  That is one of the main reasons I advocate the writing of your own personal story, not for you, but for those who come after you.  Again I state why not take your place in history with your own story that most likely will become some future family researcher’s treasure.


Residual Genealogical Brick Walls

I was overhauling my website as planned when it occurred to me that I still have two genealogical brick walls requiring some major work to complete research of two family lines, namely that of Freeman Clough and Thomas Bennett.  Some 15 years ago, the information I was given included three of the difficult areas of research, but now only two remain and shall remain and are planned to be left for the next researcher.

Freeman Clough – Brick wall #1 – I was given no hint of his parentage, but this eventually was solved with use of the 1860 and 1870 Federal Census by recognizing that he and or a member of his family were either staying with his brother in Chicago.  Then the flood gates opened as his parentage and lineage was covered in a major publication by the John Clough of Salisbury, Genealogical Society.

Freeman Clough – Brick wall #2 – info that he died in Tees, Alberta on 27 March 1903 was initial data available.  Recent activity on Canada, Find-a-Grave Index indicates Freeman is buried in Tees, Alberta, Canada; however this is suspiciously information that is copied from other websites and not directly taken from the burial site.  So I consider this a brick wall at this time

Thomas Bennett – Brick wall #3 – This is not a proverbial genealogical brick wall but on line searching has not yielded sufficient information to preclude a planned research trip to the east coast for further research.  Perhaps in the distant future this will become project for me, but for the time being this is on hold.

Technology’s impact on Family History Research

I invested most of this week in finishing the draft copy of some 31 slides I want to present to the local societies and groups.  This presentation is a brief expose on what technology’s impact on family history research has been, is and will be in the distant future.  If I spend on average, 2 minutes per slide, that translates to an hour long presentation.  What is left for me at this time, other than to edit the slides is to pour over the presentation and fill in my notes and mental musings.  My hope in presentating of this review is that of removing the fear and hesitation many have in writing their history, the fear of using contemporary technology in what has been thought of a dry, uninteresting field of research and writing family histories.  May be this will provide the recipient a little purpose and drive their work at discovering and reporting family history, the work that usually accompanies the building of a family tree.


The highlighted direction of this presentation is the movement from the tradition of repeating oral history as the only way to maintain lines of royalty; through use of parchments and stone as a method of recording; and onto the high tech methods of research and recording of today and even a glimpse of tomorrow.

A Cherished Memory

I just put in 3 days of coordinating pictures and writing memories from 52 years ago and found it an interesting session with the pen and paper, actually with Microsoft Word.  Why do I do this you might ask.   Primarily I am whole heartedly in favor of every one writing their own story, because as a family historian I have found the that the personal stories and accounts of events very useful in the writing my ancestor’s stories.  Finding the vital information is rather straight forward in today’s world of web databases, but to use only that makes for a dry, usual short accounting of my ancestor’s life.  Those that have left behind autobiographies or snippets of their life in diary or journal form provide the family historian insight to the person that can embellish the writing of the stories and enables an opportunity for the writer keep the narrative from becoming a dry read.


This particular memory of mine was about a cherished event in my life.  In my mid-twenties I was asked to be one of five chaperones on 50 mile trek to be taken by a troop of Boy Scouts that I did not know.  I readily agreed to do it and was paid off in measurable dose of self-esteem.  The day by day accounting of this memory hopefully draws images in the reader’s mind as she or he traverse through the story.  To read this account click this link.,%201962.pdf

Crowdsourcing to Outreach

In 1999 I decided to put my family history on line on a few pages.  Eventually it grew to 50 plus pages.  Initially, I was in the mood to share my work as I had uncovered a treasure trove of memorabilia, artifacts, documentation, photos, letters, bibles etc in my Grandmother’s and Aunt’s home.  I have memories of some of this collection being stored in their attic before they moved to a new home with a spare bedroom to collect it in.  Since I inherited the collection and with my interest in family history, I chose to put what I could on the web with the notion that perhaps others out in the world might use this information in their own family history research projects.  Over the past 15 years, I have received some 10,000 plus unique hits on the website, been contacted by cousins I didn’t know existed, and shared information between us that enhanced my family history experience.  With out knowing it, I was crowdsourcing with a modicum of success, and although my initial intentions were to share information, the presence on the web attracted contact and further information for my efforts. 

Now that I am finally in a “retirement mode” of life, my efforts are to stretch into the world of family historians with software, talks and seminars, along with consultations.  A lot of this I envision will be through the continued use of the web as a communication and research tool.  Retire is a retread; that is not me….. I prefer to be relevant in my work as it is why I can wake in the morning with the attitude of producing and contributing something worthwhile for some one else.

Web Sites Coordinated

August 16 and the four web pages located at George’s Place, Snyder’s Root Cellar, and George’s Blog are coordinated to navigate between them seamlessly if one remembers the above titles for 1)-George’s Place, my personal website, 2)-Snyder’s Root Cellar, my family history on the web, and 3)-George’s Blog, the place you are reading this at.  Additionally, George’s Place Bio page is also linked back to George’s Blog.