Saturday, January 28, 2012

Links to the Past

Do you ever feel disconnected from your ancestors? I mean, I know I have a 20-times great grandmother somewhere in my past, and obviously, she had a 20-times great grandmother, etc., but it's hard to think about the richness of our pasts when we're so caught up in the present.

My family and I recently discovered my husband's 5 times great grandfather, Samuel Palmes, fought in the Revolutionary War. He and his twin brother joined after the Battle of Lexington, and served four long years in the Continental Army. Last summer, we visited the town where Samuel was born and stood at his grave. The church where his family worshiped is still in use today. A surreal feeling overcame us. To think that we were walking the same ground where my husband's long-ago ancestor once walked seemed like something out of a book.

Exploring my husband's ancestry led me to search my own family tree. I found a census page from 1920, listing my Filipino grandfather at the age of 19 in a boarding house in California. I found my father's grandpa's draft registration for WWI. He was disqualified because he was already over 50 years old then. On the Ellis Island website, we found many relatives' crossing papers - the passenger lists for my husband's German grandfather and an English uncle, and my own German great-grandfather. I've been to Ellis Island before, and to be in the same building where our family long ago entered America for the first time is incredible.

So, dig up your family trees! Explore where you came from. It might even help you know where you're going.