Well, maybe that is the reason I started -- I never knew them.
When I was young, I remember being fascinated by the pedigree chart that my Mom & Dad had put in the back of my baby book. It was a simple chart. I think it went back to my Great Great Grandparents generation. Names like Raider, Clanton, Zelmer, Kopitzki, Hunter, Byars, Ulrich, Briete, Wentzel, Lemke, Dreger and Ramont were unfamiliar to me. Mixed in with these were familiar names like my surname, Frank, and my grandparent's name Barton. I guess it fascinated me to see all those unfamiliar names in the mix with names I knew.
It was also curious to me that I had one less set of Great Great Grandparents than most people -- because of a pair of sisters who married into the two sides of my family.
I was also intrigued by a couple stories that had been collected by my grandmother about her grandparents' trip to America, and the more recent stories I remember my Oma & Opa ("Grandma & Grandpa" in German) telling about their escape to America from war-torn Germany after World War II.
All these things made me curious about these people who I didn't know, but for a name on a chart in my baby book.
I guess it also intrigues me to see how much or how little of a trace my ancestors left behind. What kind of legacy or lasting impression did they leave behind? What did they do with their lives? Almost every time I sit down to enter a batch of newly discovered names into my computer file, I start to think about lives and how short they appear to me as I type them. I can input several generations in just a matter of minutes... first name, last name, born on, married to, died on, buried at... and yet in the few seconds it takes to summarize a life in this way, I wonder, "how much more was there to this person's life than these cold facts?"
I hope that the photos, stories, notes, names and charts I assemble in my lifetime will tell my descendants a little about the people who came before them. I hope this collection will be an example and will stir their hearts to do something significant with their life. They may not make it into the history books, but if they allow God to use their life to influence others, they will have left an indelible mark on generations to come!
Genealogy is not a means to retrieve the lost souls of the dead and bring them back into heaven as the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) falsely believe, but I believe it can show future generations how they can have a dramatic impact on families that come after they are long gone. They can do this through the example and the testimony of a life lived for, and directed by, God.
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