For years I asked my parents about our heritage. I longed for family ties because we were a thousand miles from the nearest relative. My mother just told me she knew nothing and my father only told me we came from a long line of horse thieves!! I began my search years later when I overheard my mother telling our 12 year old daughter about our Irish heritage. Who forgot to mention that important fact to me?? Suddenly my earlier childhood interest was piqued and I was on the hunt again.
Someone asked me recently why I spend time trying to find my ancestors. Here are my top ten reasons!
- I want to find out who I am in history and how I fit into the passage of time.
- I want to piece together how my ancestors lived and what they might have experienced.
- I want to find even the smallest record or mention of their names.
- I want their lives to have not been lost in the memories of those who have come later.
- I want to stand on the fields they plowed…view the ocean they sailed…walk the narrow streets where they went to market. And if I cannot actually go, I want to find photos taken by others who have also searched.
- I want to peer deeply into the faded faces on old photographs and realize I am connected to these people.
- I need for my children and children’s children to have the answers to questions I begged to know as I grew up.
- I seek the thrill and rush of research: digging for hours in the stacks at the library or searching site after site online. The words investigate, probe, inquire, search, explore, analyze, study are a constant in my life!
- I want to meet and get to know distant cousins who also have a burning desire to find ancestors.
- I want to record my memories. Lindsey Mead, author of the blog A Design So Vast, has said “I believe we are all full of stories. I believe we are all looking for the way home… I believe that telling our stories – to others, maybe, but most of all to ourselves – is the only way to find our way home.” If in my search, I am able to find the stories of ancestors, I will be happy beyond words. I will be home.
Almost twenty years after my search began in earnest, I have posted over a thousand photos and over a hundred stories online on ancestry.com. I’ve discovered many cousins, including one an hour away from my home and some in Ireland. I dream of having some of my work in a County Cork museum. There are quite a few authors in my Driskell line, so I take the mantel of writer seriously. I have no books published, but I’ve given scrapbooked journals as gifts to my family.
Will I ever run out of things to explore? Absolutely not! I have friends, who just like me, have the need to know their ancestry. And the thrill of the hunt is always beckoning me!