Thursday, July 16, 2009

Looking for ancestors

This is a picture of one set of my great grandparents, Willard and Lillian St Martin. I believe this is a wedding picture taken in bout 1896 in Wisconsin.

I have been doing the family genealogy for many years. I love this adventure. It is like I am running a major detective agency. Using resources in archives, libraries, and now many online sources, it is possible to go back in time and find our ancestors. Since I am often busy during the school year teaching my classes, summers are the time for me to dig back in and see what I can learn. Well, this summer, rather than spending so much time looking back, I've decided to find my "cousins" in the present.

When my dad's father was a young man, he left home and married, and after only a few years moved the family from Minnesota to San Diego, CA where my dad was born, and I was born and raised. My grandfather died before I was born from early onset diabetes. He had been told about 10 years before that he would only live a year or so, but was able to beat the odds of that time. Because my grandmother remarried, we had very little contact with grandpa's side of my family. One time we saw my great grandfather (Willard in the picture) who was living in Washington as an elderly man. I have pictures, but I don't remember him.

So this summer, I have been looking for relatives on my Martin side, and I have found some. I am also excited to be getting pictures of the uncles and aunts from way back. And I am even planning to visit some of these folks in the midwest. It is very exciting to learn more about the family.

Many children today have no idea who their great grandparents are, or where they came from. People used to depend upon their oral history and shared their stories freely. Where did that practice go? We have become a media-driven computer age, but forget to take the time to talk with our elders and learn their stories. I have so many questions I would like to have asked of those who are gone. So, I am looking for the elders who are still around to find out more.

We are here today because of the hard work and spirit of adventure of our ancestors. Many of them lived hard lives. Some of them were less than perfect. Others are described as generous, caring people. They all helped make us the people we are today.

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