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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
Moultrie
Beth's Weekly Moultrie Observer Column - Week 43
(This appears here courtesy of The Moultrie Observer)


It seems that we have more questions about genealogy. A researcher who visited during Scottish Weekend this year wanted to know, "What if I can't find where my ancestor came from? What should I do?"
There are a few things you CAN do.
* Have you looked at not just your branch of your family, but at the entire family?
* Have you looked for previously unknown family members? (Do you know about every member of the family you see on census records, for example?)
* Have you analyzed your family's neighbors?
* Have you read the local history of the areas in which your family lived?
* Have you read regional history of the areas in which your family lived?
* Have you looked at the geography of where your family lived?
* Have you considered economics?
* Have you looked at the migration trails near where your family settled?
* Have you considered chain migration?
* Have you looked at boundary changes?
* Have you traced the person's life as far as you can?
* Have you started with the most recent events and moved backwards?
One of my own favorite tools is a historical "timeline." There are common books that list each year and what happened in those years. Many time, you can see that this is the time when "free land was given in Alabama" or "the War of 1812 began" or something like that.
Historians don't have to be genealogists, but genealogists MUST be historians! You simply have to learn enough history to know what was going on in the time period you are researching.
Did I forget to tell you that all of this is great fun? It really is.
The author of this piece is unknown, I'm told. It is something interesting for those who haven't yet started working on their family history.
"My feelings are that in each family there is at least one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and to make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not about the fathering of facts, but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.
We are the storytellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as it were by our genes. Those who have gone before us cry out to us, "Tell our story!" So, we do.
In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.
How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, "You have a wonderful family. You would be proud of us!"
How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say. It goes beyond documenting facts. It goes to who I am and why I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and saying, "I can't let this happen." The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to do something about it.
It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up. It goes to their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be who we are. That we might remember them. So, we do.
With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.
That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones."
If you are the one "called" in your family, do come and visit with us at The Odom Library in Moultrie.
Did I remember to tell you that genealogy is the number one hobby in the United States today? It is!


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