Sharing the Wealth

Genealogy is all about sharing the wealth.

Some of the most generous, helpful people on the planet today are genealogists.

Most of them are always willing to help someone new to genealogy research,  share what they have learned during the course of their own research, or offer helpful tips on where someone can pursue a new lead to track down an elusive family connection.

I have been the happy recipient of such assistance many times during the course of my own research. A distant cousin whom I have never met in person provided the missing link that allowed me to connect my family line with other ancestors in southern Ohio. Without her help, I would never have made the connection between the two families.

This exchange of information happened online. I have still never met this kind lady face-to-face, but I am grateful that today’s technology has enabled us to meet and chat in cyberspace!

That is one reason I decided to start this blog – to share the wealth.

While I am not a Knapp by blood (I only married one!), I have been researching my husband’s family tree for the past few years. I decided not long ago that I wanted to put my research online so others can access it, too.

I feel strongly about sharing this information with others. You learn a lot about yourself when you learn where you came from. History becomes more real – not just a series of dates and places and names to memorize in school, but real events that happened to real people.

If you want to spur an interest in history and geography in your children, start telling them about family members who participated in some of the major events they learn about every day in school.

History becomes personal when you know that an ancestor was a soldier during the Civil War, witnessed the carnage and bravery on D-Day, or crossed the prairie in a covered wagon.

History comes alive when you try to imagine what it felt like to stand on the deck of a ship after crossing the storm-tossed Atlantic and steam by the Statue of Liberty on the way to Ellis Island – the gateway to the United States!

And as you learn to ask your elderly relatives about their lives and their memories, you gain something that is truly priceless. My advice: don’t wait. Start asking those questions now – before it is too late.

When I was a newspaper reporter, part of my “beat” was the Ohio Veterans Home in Sandusky, Ohio. I heard someone say that every time a vet died there, a history book was lost – gone forever.

That statement resonated with me. And I realized that it isn’t only true of veterans, but of ALL our elderly citizens. Each and every older person is a virtual treasure trove of stored memories, unique perspectives and experiences.

Don’t waste an opportunity to sit down with them, ask questions, and record the conversation. These living “history books” won’t be around forever. Talk to them before they are gone or their memories dim with age.

Don’t wait – make that call or stop by for a visit – today!

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