Monday, October 24, 2016

Saturday Challenge- Foreshadowing of Genealogy

1)    When you reflect back as a child, do you now see things that you did then, that show your interest in knowing extended family and/or your future interest in genealogy?

As a young child, I was almost constantly surrounded by older people. Both relatives and those who were simply friends of my parents. Unlike many of my peers, my parents were already in their 40’s when I was born. Mom belonged to various crafting groups that consisted of women of various ages. Most were contemporaries of her or older. This environment taught me at an early age to communicate with my elders.  I heard many stories about “olden times” that might be considered history.  I enjoyed hearing these stories and what they had done as children as well as the general time period that they grew up in.

Through no real effort of my own, other than enjoying hearing them talk about such things, I learned a great deal about life in the early 1900s. This laid a foundation for my later interests in history and genealogy.

As I grew older and learned how to read, I developed a love of reading. I would quickly devour books and then look for more or reread the ones I had already read. What were my favorites? I had many, but there is a similarity that runs through them all. The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder about pioneer times. Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery and her other books, all set in Canada during the late 1800s and very early 1900s. Louisa May Alcott books written in Massachusetts shortly after the Civil War: Little Women, Little Men, Eight Cousins, Rose In Bloom...  These and many others all had an historical aspect about them and I loved them. In my imagination I went back in time and lived in these stories and made up more adventures about the characters.

I had an understanding of relatives as well. Although many of them I didn’t see very often, I knew who my family was and how they were related to each other. Uncles were brothers of either my Dad or Mom. They had no sisters, but I understood that my Aunts were the wives of my Uncles and if Dad or Mom had a sister, she would have been an Aunt as well. I had an understanding of how generations worked. When talking about my mother, she was “Mommy”, but if I was referring to her to one of my nieces or nephews, it automatically became “Grandma” until at least a time when they were old enough to understand that their Grandma was my Mom. Even now, I often slip into that version despite the fact we are all adults.

All of this started when I was a toddler and elementary school years. So, when I was in high school and had an assignment to do a family tree, of course, my interest just grew and I quickly became fascinated with learning more and more about the family that came before me. All of those interests and tendencies were a part of the future interest in genealogy, family, and local history that I didn’t know existed until I was introduced to them as a teenager.

In fact, most things I did as a child could have a connection to genealogy. The crafts I enjoyed doing- and still do- are similar to what our ancestors did. My love of camping and travel are related as well. I learned geography and differences in regions first-hand during the travel I did as a child.

Not too long ago my husband and I were talking about how people used to cook in times past. He asked me if I could imagine cooking over an open fire. Imagine? I have grilled meat over coals, toasted marshmallows and made food with “pie irons”, a device that cooks sandwiches and pies over a campfire. I’ve even made pizzas with English muffins and such in a cast iron frying pan over a fire while camping. Not food our ancestors would have had as part of their regular diet, but similar to some of the ways they might have cooked and definitely gives me a taste some of the challenges they would have faced in getting a meal on the table.

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