The excitement for a new genealogist is, of course, adding a new generation to their ancestral tree. The giddy high of finding new names, breaking through brick walls and finding maiden names can last for years. What about a seasoned genealogist? Veterans who have plowed through documents, indexes and microfilm; those who have built their family tree through methodical, hard-core perseverance, what is their joy?
Being a veteran myself, I have realized the joy of adding new generations to my tree has morphed into helping others (new to genealogy) build their ancestral trees. When a newbie realizes that genealogy is more, so much more, than faceless names and dates, it is priceless.
Recently, I helped a friend (let’s say his name is Alfred), a huge American Civil War geek, begin the process of building his tree. To his delight, we soon found an ancestor (third great grandfather) who fought in the Civil War, Confederate side. I gave Alfred the regiment and company his ggg grandfather was in. I turned him lose with one directive, “Research away”. A day later, Alfred knew all of his ancestor’s company movements, the battles he fought in and the casualties suffered, which of course, were devastating. His 3rd g grandfather had fought at the well know battle of Gettysburg. Here is what Alfred said in a text:
I researched [my ancestor]’s role in the battle of Gettysburg and he was in one of the hottest parts of Pickets Charge and I found him, or, I found his brigade and commander in that book and what they did during the hot part of the battle and why of course he was captured; it is one of the brightest most resplendent important parts of the Civil War and is actually 100% the high watermark that decided the war, literally that two hours, and he was in the middle of it!! I can’t believe he lived through it, actually; also: after my last trip to Gettysburg I bought a shirt that was funny and it said “I survived Pickets charge”, but now I know that’s actually true because I probably shouldn’t exist! And I owe all thanks to you.
To see and hear that kind of connection to those who came before us, is priceless. For me, this is my true joy as a veteran genealogist. I will always love finding new people to fill out my tree, but helping others on their journey, making history come alive for them, that is gold. Fun final note: Alfred and I are 11th cousins.
Thank you for reading,