On my move back to Illinois, I stopped to visit my Grandparents in their hometown of Bloomfield, a village of about 2,600 people located in southeastern Iowa. I visit my Grandparents as often as possible and, fortunately, my route led close to their house. So, of course, I stopped by! As usual, we had great discussions about our family history.
Talking About Family with Family
My Grandparents have been very active since retiring. Along with spending limitless hours volunteering and serving on boards of directors, they’ve also taken a strong interest in genealogy. They are passionate about the subject. They started from scratch and they traced parts of the family all the way back to Europe in the 1500s. They traveled around the United States researching various people with hopes of finding more history, making trips to Oregon, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and more. They even stayed with a distant relative in Germany on a non-genealogy European trip they took in the 80s. Needless to say, they have discovered a huge amount of information on our family.
Some of their findings are absolutely fascinating. We’re related to the Shelton Brothers Gang, who were a moonshine makin’, bootleggin’ gang during the prohibition era in southern Illinois. We’ve had at least a few well-respected doctors in the family, one who sadly committed suicide in the hospital laundry room. Possibly the most interesting ancestors are a pair of sisters named Adelaide and Sarah Anne Yates, who married the first ever Conjoined (Siamese) twins. Together, the women had 21 kids with their respective husbands. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up. My Grandparents even learned about the exact ancestors who came over to the United States on ships from England, Ireland, Germany, and Holland. What they have found is just absolutely incredible.
What will be your place in history?
When talking about family history, it’s easy to feel small. I realize how much has taken place before I was even born and how much will take place after I’ve passed away (pending nuclear war). In a way, it makes me feel insignificant and unimportant. However, this feeling also gives me great motivation to do something big; something that will have a positive impact on a lot of people.
It’s simple to live for yourself and your family by focusing your energy on earning more money to create better lives for your spouse and kids. But what if we were to use our energy and/or money to benefit more than just us and our families? That can be volunteering for reputable organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, etc. If you don’t have the energy or time to volunteer, donate. These two things together truly change lives.
What will be your legacy? If you were to pass away today, what would people say about you? Would your descendants have anything to talk about? If you don’t like the answer to these questions, you need to change it. If you like the answer, just keep doing what you’re doing