Leapfrogging: Should We Believe Our Elders? – 52 Ancestors #180

You might notice that weekends are normally when I publish my 52 ancestor stories – and this isn’t exactly a normal 52 Ancestors story – but it pertains. Trust me for a minute.

Halt the Presses

This is what happens when you THINK you have correct information for your ancestor – or any topic really – and for some reason, you discover that you don’t.

Generally, the reasons fall into three categories:

  • New information not previous available
  • Misinterpreted information, sometimes based on incomplete information
  • Incorrect information from “elders”

The reason the 52 Ancestors story I had planned for today isn’t publishing is a result of items 1 and 2.  Fortunately for genealogists today, records previously buried in dusty cellars and church books in tiny villages are now being imaged and indexed along with other information relevant to rebuilding our ancestor’s lives.

While it’s irritating to have written an entire article and THEN discover something new – it’s actually a VERY POSITIVE outcome, because the new information was a wonderful development as the result of their spouses’ article published last week.

So while I need to rewrite this week’s and the original article, I will write with gratitude!

The third situation, incorrect information from elders, is a bit more awkward – and yes, I’ve been tripped up with that one too.

Who Are The Elders Anyway?

In most every culture, the elders are those who have lived long enough to amass wisdom – or they are more focused on a particular subject.  In traditional societies, these might be healers, shamans or hunters.

Today, the genealogical elders might be individuals focused on genealogy, genetic genealogy specialists, or the people in our own family who are literally, older, who know more about our family because they knew their grandparents who passed away long before we were born.

Additionally, because we all begin as novices, book authors and people who already have trees online are perceived as “elders” in this sense, because they have more experience than the novice. This extends to other people on social media, whether they have any expertise at all.  It’s impossible for the novice to tell.

Uncle George – The Good Elder

Let me give you an example.

My father died when I was a child and his family lived in another state 500 miles distant.  I didn’t know any of his side of the family until as a young adult, I decided I wanted to find out if there were any living family members.  I literally called the telephone “operator” and told her to connect me to any Estes in Tazewell, Tennessee. I remember her asking, “But which one, there are several?”  I was excited!

The operator selected an Estes at random and a couple phone calls later, I was talking to Uncle George who everyone assured me knew all about the genealogy of the Estes family. Indeed, he was the family elder I needed to connect with. He told me he had known my grandfather, Will Estes. He refrained from telling me the juicy details. At that time, I didn’t even know there were juicy details about my grandfather. I would learn about those later from one of the crazy aunts.

A few months later, I went to visit Uncle George, who was not my uncle at all, but my first cousin once removed.  The term “Uncle” in that part of the country is a term of endearment showing respect and kinship with someone.

Uncle George was kind enough to share his recollections with me, along with photos, dates and burial locations.  He was the collector of such things, the family archivist.  It’s somehow ironic that Uncle George had no biological offspring, although he was very fond of his second wife’s children.

At this point in my life, I wasn’t a genealogist, or at least I didn’t realize I was.  It’s a sneaky addiction you know! A slippery slope and once you’re there, it’s too late to do anything about it.  If you are reading this article, you very clearly know whereof I speak😊

Leapfrog Knowledge

When I met Uncle George and his brother, Uncle Buster, both of whom I adored, Uncle George was in his 70s and we were separated by almost half a century.

That means that he was in every sense my elder and looked uncannily like my father – so much so that when he opened the door the day I met him for the first time – I stood on the step literally dumbstruck, seeing the ghost of my two decades deceased father.

Uncle George and me in the back of his pickup truck.

We sat on the couch during my visit, side by side as he pulled one note and photo after another out of “the box” and shared them with me, recounting the story of each one.  I was transported back in time.

He told me that he was quite young, but that he remembered standing at the graveside of his grandfather, my great-grandfather, Lazarus Estes when he was buried in 1918.  He asked, “Do you want me to take you there?”  Now remember, I wasn’t a genealogist yet – but I truly believe it’s right about here in the story that I was infected with this lifelong affliction.

I excitedly said yes, and off we went – to view a grave WITH NO HEADSTONE.

How many of your ancestors’ graves are unmarked? What would it be worth to you to go with someone who had stood at that grave when they were buried and knew exactly where it was located?

This is what I’m referring to as leapfrogging.  That happens when you find someone old enough that they have personal knowledge of incidents and people at least two and sometime three generations before your own available family memories.

In my case, I had no memories available to harvest, except for the Crazy Aunts who we’ll mention in a minute, because my father had died.  Finding Uncle George who had carefully taken notes was a godsend.

His personal knowledge was remarkable.  Of course, I wish desperately now I had asked more questions – so many more questions.

Uncle George is who told me about the cabin that burned, and with it, my father’s brother.  He planted the willow tree on the spot where that cabin once stood.  And where I later stood too, grieving a half century later for my grandparents and that poor child.

Uncle George knew both Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy Estes, my great-grandparents.  Granted, they were old when he was young, but he could take me to where their cabin stood, show me where they dipped their water with a gourd from the stream and tell me about what his father told him as well.

Uncle George’s father, Charlie Tomas (yes, it’s really spelled that way) knew his parents of course, but he also knew his grandparents, in particular, his grandmother Ruthy Dodson Estes who died in 1903 when Charlie would have been 18.  It’s because Charlie shared this knowledge with Uncle George that we knew that she suffered terribly from rheumatoid arthritis and had to be carried from her cabin to Lazarus’ when she could no longer care for herself.  It’s through Charlie that we knew where Ruthy’s unmarked grave was located as well.

Ruthy’s husband, John Y. Estes didn’t die until 1895, but he left Tennessee for Texas before Charlie was born, so Charlie would never have known him.

This leapfrogging begins to break down here, but we’ve connected in some tangible way with George acquiring either first or second hand knowledge of people born in 1820.

Furthermore, Uncle George knew that his great-great-grandmother’s name was Nancy Ann Moore.  He was accurate.  How do I know?  Because I found their marriage license in Halifax County Virginia from 1811 some years later. Because Uncle George knew her name, I knew I had the right John Estes in Halifax County and that allowed me to search further and connect back in time to earlier generations – breaking through the brick wall of how my Estes line connected to the descendants of Abraham Estes.

Uncle George’s recorded notes leapfrogged back in time from the 1980s to 1811, an amazing 170 years!

What didn’t Uncle George know?

He didn’t know where the family came from in Virginia, but he unknowingly held the piece of information that allowed me to make that discovery.

He didn’t know where John R. Estes who had died in 1887 was buried, although he presumed it was in the family cemetery.  At least Uncle George TOLD me he was presuming.

This is the important distinction.

I didn’t know enough about genealogy at that point to understand what to ask.  He knew enough to tell me and thankfully, I heard him.

When interviewing elders, it’s important to discern what they know and how, as opposed to what they are inferring based on other knowledge, and it’s critical to record what they say verbatim.  By that time, I had finished college, so note-taking was second nature – thankfully. I find my notes from those conversations that include items I’d forgotten, and I know at the time I thought I’d never forget – but I did.

As I read back over my notes from my visits with Uncle George, I discovered that I had forgotten things that seemed unimportant at the time, but were valuable puzzle pieces later when I had a clue.

To the best of my knowledge, Uncle George never provided me with a piece of inaccurate information.  In some cases, he didn’t know all of the details, which I later discovered, but they never disproved what he had told me.

But then, there were the Crazy Aunts.

The Crazy Aunts

The crazy Aunts were elders too when I met them, about the same time.  They were my father’s sisters.

Uncle George didn’t forewarn me that the aunts were crazy. He didn’t tell me that they um, created or embellished stories with added drama, at will, it seems.

Now, I do have to admit, some of their stories did turn out to be true, and ALL OF THEM were quite interesting. Sometimes far more interesting than the truth.

Of particular interest to me was the “fact” that Elizabeth Vannoy was “half Cherokee through her mother and her brothers moved to Oklahoma and claimed head rights.”

That’s a lot of very specific information.

And guess what?

None of it was true.

I’ve tracked down every bit and disproven that entire statement, piece by piece, including genetically through Y DNA and mitochondrial haplogroups and ethnicity tests of descendants.  Elizabeth Vannoy was not half Cherokee.  Her family wasn’t even living in the right location, to begin with, and the evidence continues from there.

This isn’t the only instance of receiving incorrect information from the aunts.

However, Aunt Margaret did indeed provide me with family photos, none of which I had or would have had without her generosity.

This begs the question of whether Aunt Margaret was conveying something she was told or whether she was playing fast and free with the truth, or maybe conveying the story as she wanted it to be.

I don’t have the answer to that.

What I do know is that I believed it for a very long time.  I know that my father believed it too.

Verifying Elder’s Stories

Stories conveyed by the elders are absolutely invaluable.  However, we have to evaluate every piece of that information individually, divorcing ourselves from the emotions we hold for tellers.

Yes, we know that you love grandpa and you can’t conceive of grandpa every lying to you – but maybe grandpa didn’t tell a Pinocchio.  Maybe he told the truth as he believed it.  Maybe he only modified the facts a tidbit to protect someone – perhaps you.

For example, when I was young, there was a sign in front of our house that said “colored people not allowed.”  Colored meant me…because my father’s family was “dark” and my father firmly believed that he was indeed Indian, attending to Powwows held in secret at that time because they were illegal.

Was he partly Indian?  Yes, I do believe so, based on a variety of evidence.

Was his grandmother half Indian through her mother who was 100% Cherokee?  No, unquestionably not, including mitochondrial DNA evidence that shows her haplogroup as J1c2c! That European mitochondrial haplogroup alone proved unquestionably that her matrilineal line is not Native. Her father’s haplogroup I is also European.

Perhaps that tidbit conveyed by the crazy aunts substituted Native for African.  Perhaps their parents or grandparents, in the early 1900s were trying to explain why they were so dark and trying to protect their family from rampant “zero tolerance” discrimination.

We will never know today.  What I do know, and can prove is that the information provided by the aunts was inaccurate.  I cannot speak to the intention.

Talk, Record, Share, Correct

This brings me back to my commentary about my 52 Ancestors stories.  I need to correct two stories already in print and delay one that was scheduled to be published today – because I need to correct information based on newly discovered facts.

However, those facts would never have come my direction had I NOT published what I had, with sources and references.

I’ve heard a number of people say that they don’t share trees or stories because they aren’t “finished” or they are afraid of perpetuating bad information.  I share that concern, but imagine if Uncle George hadn’t shared what he knew with me.

That information would be gone today, forever irretrievable.

Here’s my advice.

  • Do your best.
  • Verify as much as possible.
  • Share your sources and your research path.
  • Document what you can and state clearly what you do not know, items that need followup or areas where you are suspicious, and why
  • Negative evidence is still evidence. For example, “I checked and John Doe is not in the marriage/death/court/deed/will/probate records in XYZ County between 1850 and 1900.”  That provides invaluable information, even though you didn’t find any documents.  It’s not at all the same as not having checked.
  • Correct the stories or narrative as soon as you discover either an error or something new.

We believe our elders because when we find them, they are more knowledgeable than we are.  They have the benefit of time and sometimes location and there is no reason for us to NOT believe them.  After all, they are the ones we are turning to.

Like everyone, elders, no matter how much we love and respect them, are human, and they convey what they were told.  We can’t go back in time and evaluate why their elders thought or said what they did.  We don’t know if someone assumed that an individual was buried someplace or knew it by standing at their graveside. And we don’t know if they got information from the equivalent of Uncle George or a Crazy Aunt.

We also don’t know what was omitted, or why.

For a long time, I believed that John Y. Estes must surely be buried in the Estes Cemetery too, between his parents, wife and deceased children.  It made perfect sense.  That is…until I discovered quite by accident that he left his family in Estes Holler in Claiborne County Tennessee, walked to Texas (twice) not long after his youngest child was born and was in fact buried in the Boren Cemetery the middle of a field in Montague County, Texas in 1895. Imagine my surprise making this discovery, which, by the way, I verified in person, taking the photo of his headstone myself in 2004.

None of the elders told me that really important tidbit. Could be because they didn’t “know,” but somehow I think it might have had more to do with the “d” word.  Divorce. Or maybe because he left his family. It could also have something to do with the fact that he fought for the confederacy in the Civil War while most of the neighbors and family fought for the north. Or maybe some combination of the two made him easy to forget.

The other glaring omission is that Joel Vannoy, father of Elizabeth Vannoy, who died in 1895 was institutionalized in an “insane asylum” for “preachin’, swearin’ and threatenin’ to fight.”  Lazarus transported him to the asylum in Knoxville, and everyone in “Estes Holler” which connected with “Vannoy Holler” was aware of the situation.  It was no secret at the time, as I later discovered. Uncle George’s father, Charlie clearly knew this, and knew Joel as well.  I surely wish Uncle George had told me.  He was a kind man and didn’t want to speak ill of anyone, alive or dead.

The Crazy Aunts would have told something that juicy in a heartbeat, so I’m going to presume they didn’t know! They weren’t raised in Estes Holler.

The truth is the truth, no matter how flattering or unflattering.  Our ancestors are unique individuals, warts and all.

We hold a sacred duty to the ancestors to tell their stories, the truth, verified where possible by DNA evidence, because now WE have become those leapfrogging elders.



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36 thoughts on “Leapfrogging: Should We Believe Our Elders? – 52 Ancestors #180

  1. Loved it….so true!


    On Sun, Jan 21, 2018 at 12:38 PM, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy wrote:

    > Roberta Estes posted: “You might notice that weekends are normally when I > publish my 52 ancestor stories – and this isn’t exactly a normal 52 > Ancestors story – but it pertains. Trust me for a minute. Halt the Presses > This is what happens when you THINK you have correct in” >

  2. I agree. Those ancestors tapped me on the shoulder (more like a jackhammer!) and said, “Here we are! Come on!”

    I was told what I initially dismissed as an origin myth by a family elder, but years later turned out to be true, so while stories may sound unlikely we should preserve what the elders believe. For whatever reason they held them as truth, and some day that may be clear. I just don’t include the “iffy” bits in a bio until I’ve researched it, and it’s proven.

    • And sometimes the myths you hear ARE truths, but incorrectly attributed to the wrong person/wife.

      In my family, the myths were truths about my g grandfather’s wife #2, about whom nothing was known, and came as a complete surprise.

  3. I have discovered many secrets kept on both sides of my family but unfortunately all the elders have now passed. Now that I have 3 grandchildren, I have the task of answering their questions and deciding what is appropriate info for their age (5-9) about their deceased grandfather and his alcoholism and my own multiple marriages. I understand much better why my grandmother, divorced from my “real” grandfather, didn’t want to relive that part of her life and kept that secret to her grave.

  4. I love it! I loved the reality of what your family members did, what all family members did and DO, even today, and how lucky we are to have so much information to quickly share with one another today; and the benefits of DNA to be the truth teller for us all! LOVE YOUR AND MY ESTES FAMILY! DIFFERENT lines, BUT ESTES true and through!
    Thanks Roberta! Hugs.

  5. Re: Embellishment:
    We had a story that our immigrant ancestor lost his leg fighting Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo. Records, once found, indicated that indeed, this ancestor had lost a leg in military service but not in the Battle of Waterloo. He was a footsoldier in the home militia, tripped in a hole during a drill, and injured his ankle so badly that his leg had to be amputated several months later. The truth did not instill quite the same sense of pride, I suppose. I wonder if the myth was invented deliberately to cover embarrassment (kids, your grandpa was a war hero, not a clumsy dork!), or whether it was the result of misheard information.

  6. Oh My Gosh Roberta ….. I completely related to and enjoyed this post !!!! Thank you for writing this ….. Thank YOU ….. This is a must share 🙂

  7. Just discovered your blog upon recently finding out there is more to 23andme than medical info… thanks for your storytelling. I am now researching my maternal line which is hard work, still in Tennessee in 1823! But I have a relatively rare mtDNA haplogroup H18, which may come in handy. There’s one of those “half Indian with dark good looks” anecdotes about the sister of my ggg grandfather I came across as well. It’s doubtful unless there were 2 different mothers. My genetics are 99.9% european. Thanks for the tips and I really enjoy your writing!

  8. Thank you for the beautifully written story of a path many of us have traveled. You are charitable in your comments about those who contributed what they knew or thought they knew about the relatives you were searching. Those who can’t help themselves from embellishing the facts soon come to believe those exaggerations which are a comfort to them but which, nevertheless, present a challenge for us to overcome by being skeptical and testing our facts. If they sound too good to be true, perhaps they are not? Your work inspires me to resume my efforts to write biographies of my ancestors and others they knew but were not famous enough to warrant the attention of a professional biographer. Thank you.

  9. OMG, Roberta! You hit that nail on the head! I found murder was actually a suicide, an interpreter for very important people who proved to be an oil man in the bowels of a ship, a gg-uncle, who no one knew what happened to him, actually murdered his wife and was put in an insane asylum in Luxembourg. This guy was a medical doctor and was eventually released and came to the states with his brother, Monsignor Georges Jacquemin. And this was all my adopted family! Never mind all the stories from my bio family! Whew! You never know what you might find. Just embrace it all!

  10. I enter notes on Ancestry trees quite often when I can’t figure out true information about marriages, war veterans, parents, etc. It helps me remember when I see “more research needed”. People who add notes on documentation are so helpful too! Great article as always!

  11. Stories that sound good but are not true is evidently part and parcel of genealogy. My Dad told us we were of German descent and that his grandmother was half Cherokee. These were facts. Really proud of the native American heritage. DNA results: not German, Irish; Native American genes: Zero. It shook the foundations of my identity, this thing we call self. For a while I didn’t know who I was since I had been raised believing one thing only to find out none of it was true. What else wasn’t true? Was I even the child of my father? Was I adopted or had I just wondered in one day and never left? I was sure the story about being found under a cabbage patch leaf wasn’t true, or at least I didn’t think so – but hey, anything might be true now. Eventually DNA results answered those questions – I was my father’s son and later even verified I was the great grandson of the man that had told my grandfather he was of German descent, who told my father, who told me. Why is the question now. I know it’s not likely it will ever be answered. My best guess is that g-grandfather was a NPE and was raised believing he was of German descent. Unfortunately, he never revealed to any of children who his parents were or anything about who his people might be. He remains a mystery. Of course, that’s another story.

    • The “von” suffix on German surnames could indeed indicate some level of nobility, but it could also simply denote that the family was “from” a certain area. The same is true of the “van” in Dutch surnames.

  12. Roberta, Thank you for another clear, humane and profoundly sane post. It is a delight to read your columns, to follow your quest, and to learn from you not only about genetic genealogy, but also about how the unusual is the usual when it comes to the affairs of real human families. As the “Uncle George” of my family, today’s post reminds me, yet again, of my obligation to the future to “get it all down” while I am still able to do it. Chris in Knoxville

  13. Roberta, as usual, I loved your entire story today and thought it very important. I do, however, have one nit to pick with you. I would like you to recant your use of the word “recant” where you probably meant to use “recount.” I suspect that spell checker may have snuck one over on you.

  14. Roberta, thank you so much for your stories. I got “into” this more than twenty years ago, trying to find out if the stories I heard were true or not. Most were not, but the truth was far more interesting. I would love to know your connection to Abraham Estes, who was my 6th and 7th great grandfather.(I think some cousins married at some point). Gail Whitten

  15. A very good post as always, Roberta. I was going to tell you of the mistake Phil Kuhn noted, in the comment above, and one other that I found. The “recant” is in the paragraph under the photo of you and George. The other word I question is in the section entitled: Verifying Elder’s Stories and in that part, you wrote “when I was young there was a sign in front of my hose that said ‘colored people not allowed'”. Did you intend to write “house” instead of “hose”?

    I was fortunate to become interested in my family history early and now in my 60s I continue to work on getting all the info into more organized form, plus making copies and sending those copies to museums or genealogy libraries where my various family lines once lived, so it won’t be lost if my nieces and nephews decide not to keep all that I’ve accumulated.

    Thanks again for your many good posts. I recommend your blog all the time to new people.

  16. Like many people of German ancestry, my family’s story included a name change at immigration. Originally, there was a “von” in front of the name. I remember hearing my grandfather and his brothers saying this at a funeral when I was very young. And then they kind of giggled. I didn’t know it then, but in my 30s I found out the reason. As the first generation to be born in America, they were familiar with German language and culture, and they knew they were telling a joke. To those of us not familiar, we didn’t know that by claiming the “von”, they were saying we were descended from nobility, as of course we were not. Sometimes the family stories were meant as a tease, but they got lost in translation.

  17. Hi Roberta
    This is so me, only instead of an Uncle George I had the luck of having my father’s mom (Granny) living with with us. I was a teenager at the time but she liked to tell us stories of her side of the family. She was the link to her people who were alive at the time of War of 1812 in south LA & MS. Her mom was a girl during the Civil War (Granny called it the War of Northern Aggression). So we got the southern version of all history going way back. Something at the time told my teenage brain to write down everything she told me no matter how odd it sounded. When Granny says your many times great Grandpa was an acquaintance of the pirates Lafitte in New Orleans your just nod & keep on writing all the while thinking Granny’s really making this up. Then you get the story of your three times great grandpa who fought for the North in the Civil War. Impossible you think. Not to mention all those ancestors who were Creek, Choctaw, etc,
    Well many years later, long after Granny was gone, family history research proved that Granny may have sometimes stretched the truth here & there but by golly she was telling truth & I’ve been able to verify most of it with written, in some cases primary sources. An 1809 succession record in St. Helena Parish, LA more than twenty pages of depositions, inventories, letters, etc. proved yes indeed the family owned a schooner with which they carried cargo from New Orleans as far east as Florida. Included in one group of passengers was Pierre Lafitte & his family who had to leave New Orleans to escape being arrested for his illegal activities, that was also in a book on the Lafittes. Oh there is little better than a good will or probate record.
    The Civil War ancestor wasn’t three times great grandpa but it was his only son & one of his uncles who started out like everyone else fighting for the South until the last year of the war when they & over 200 of their friends, neighbors & relatives went home & instead of going back to fight took to the swamps of south MS inspired by the exploits by Newt Knight & the men of the Free State of Jones. They hid from from both sides & ended up surrendering to the Union forces at Ft. Pike outside New Orleans & joining the Union Militia guarding the city until the war ended. This was thoroughly documented in a three part article online at Renegade South website. The native American ancestors have been proven in the strangest places in books & articles on the colonists who were involved in the deerskin trade before the Revolution & depositions relating to their descendants applying for land set aside for them in Oklahoma of all places.
    I still have some of those notes I took so many years ago & I tell everyone I help doing their family history to always talk to the elders & write everything they tell you down no matter how odd because just because you can’t verify it right then you might be able to down the road in the most unlikely places. Hope this inspires folks to keep on looking for the truth.

  18. It seems that not all families are the same. Some families are totally honest with their progeny, but many are not. Some embellish and embroider their history, concocting stories, preferring fantasy and pretense to fact. Denial is quite prevalent in society. Any past occurrence in a family that is considered shameful often is omitted or edited, and told as being something less shameful than it was.

    However these diminutions often are part of the way in which a family dynamic operates. That influence and interaction, if it is less than honest, tends to become a part of the way in which the descendants think and act. The actions of previous generations are like ripples in a pool that influence and affect future generations. It can be as hard to change as a snail trying to rid itself of its shell.

    The truth shall set you free – but only if you are willing to face it :-).

      • In many ways, yes, those who came before us are an integral part of who we are. There are some aspects involved with the way in which we think (i.e. the way in which our minds function) that may be genetically based. There are also influences that are based upon our environment. Fatalists will say that we have little or no control over who we are and how we behave. Others will contend that we can become anything that we want to be. (But let’s face it – very few of us are gifted enough to win marathons or become rocket scientists, and most of us never could do either, no matter how hard we try.) In each respect either extreme is partly right and wrong, as in the old “nature vs. nurture” argument. However, we don’t need to act as our ancestors, or even as our parents did. Although it is usually VERY difficult to do, we DO have the ability to break the cycle if it is detrimental. So it seems this aspect is mostly one of “nurture”. We CAN change our behavior – but only if we want to change it.

  19. Great Story!! A reminder that I need to be very careful in giving or
    writing information for younger relatives who are expressing interest in genealogy.

  20. Carpathian Man: That is evidenced by the factual case of the two brothers, both of whom had the exact upbringing. One became a prominent attorney and the other became a criminal. I feel the criminal could have done something, even on a small scale to mitigate his behaviour if he had wanted to.

    I think some people are born to be evil. But, I think this is mental illness, or should I say, criminal illness………

    And, I agree with everything you said.

    • “One became a prominent attorney and the other became a criminal.”

      Tongue in cheek humor: So what’s the difference between an attorney and a criminal? As was once said, what used to be done with swords and guns is now done with pens and briefcases. 😮

      I’ve heard your mentioned perspective before, about siblings who had “the same upbringing”. When I was younger I used to think that would be the case, that those raised in a family should be and act essentially in the same way. But even if they were twins that isn’t entirely predictable, nor possible. Although they had the same parentage, their life experiences were different as individuals, due to external and societal influences.that were outside the sphere of their family.

      Thanks for the kind words of agreement. 😉

  21. I’m going to recommend all the members of our local genealogy society which meets this coming Saturday read your article, its so true. This week had a long overdue meeting with two of my cousins one of whom I haven’t seen for over twenty years. We’ve kept in contact via email & phone. What a lot of memories from when were little were jogged & a lot learned. For instance my oldest cousin told how her sister who passed on much too early met her husband to be. He had noticed her before but that day he passed by & found her sitting in a tree so knowing she couldn’t runaway he just climbed up & joined her. She was such a tomboy. He had already started going to the same church as her parents & made their acquaintance. They were charmed by him. Navy pilots in flight school are usually smart to begin with & fast acting so the courtship was quick & their marriage lasted many years through many moves from base to base. It was only a few hours but much was learned & info exchanged. We three are the elder, story keepers of our family lines & we believe we were chosen for our generations. In my side its always been the women before but I’ve already found my successor so to speak in my nephew who said recently in college he would have liked to have majored in history but had to take up more practical, money making courses. I feel blessed that there is someone in the wings waiting. My Regan family surname group have started discussions on what preparations to make for your research material when you pass, Not something people like to discuss, but the passing of the major member of our group has resulted in the loss of his historic collection of many years of research. We have found out material which would have been happily taken by many organizations has literally been lost to the winds. Robert this is a good subject to discuss, as people need to make plans ahead of time, your family doesn’t always want the keeping of it, especially if its a big collection.

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