St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Story Tellers

We are the chosen. My feelings are in each family there is one
who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones
and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that
somehow they know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold
gathering of facts, but, instead, breathing life into all who have
gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have
one. We have been called as it were, by our genes. Those who have
gone before 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 just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and
why do I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to
be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying, I can't let
this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my
flesh. It goes to doing 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, 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 born 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 that one called in the next
generation to answer the call and their 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.
Unknown Author

I just had to pass this along. Enjoy reading it. Enjoy learning who
you are.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's A Good Thing

Last month, you may recall I shared finding the obituary for my
cousin. I also wrote of how I was looking for my cousin's daughter.
I'm sorry to report the funeral home never bothered to send my
information on to the family. However, I have struck gold. I found

It's a good thing I don't cotton to holding my breath while waiting.
Otherwise, I could be struggling for breath. It's a good thing that
I know people in the Pittsburgh area. It's a good thing that several
kind souls offered to assist me. Some of these kind souls are grave
seekers, I mean, genealogists like me. Some of these kind souls
share my blood. Some closer than others.

Anyway, the emails were coming in. "I found seven possible suspects
for you." "Here are more names and phone numbers." "Here are the tax
records." So, I did what everyone who grew up awhile back does. I
let my fingers do the walking. They walked and dialed and got the
standard, "No, not me."

Until last week when the phone on the other end of the line rang. A
young man picked it up. I explained who I was, and for whom I was
searching. He said, "Who?" And then he said those wonderful words
we all long to hear, "Yes, that was her maiden name and her father
did die two years ago." I surprised they didn't hear my shout all
over Fayette County and all the way up to Allegheny County in PA.

This dear daughter and I talked for quite awhile. As I had
suspected, her father had not talked much about his family. And
who's to blame him? Not me. What I hope to give this dear cousin is
a sense of who her father's family was. While we were talking, and
while I was telling her the little tidbits of lore my father had
given me about her grandfather, she exclaimed, "My dad was just like

I've now sent her some tidbits of information and some old pictures.
I know she needs time to read it and try to piece the puzzles
together in her head. I've also given her some keys to her father's
past. It's a good thing. Next, I'll be able to share with her
stories of her paternal family. It's a good thing. We've got a neat
history. And I'm willing to share it.

I lost my father when I was in my 20s. He left this earth much too
soon for my liking. However, the connections I have made with his
family have given me pieces of him. I see his spirit, I see his
eyes, I see his sense of humor in my cousins. It's a good thing.

So, my new found cousin, you've got a great family waiting to
embrace you and tell you of your father's family. It's a good
thing. We hope you agree.

My advice to everyone? Don't give up in your personal searches for
your family. One day the phone may ring and someone will say, "Yes,
that's my family." It's a good thing.