Genealogy, people will tell you, is all about the past. It is a trip into history which some folks are just not interested in. However, I think my research into the lives of my ancestors is also about the future. These people who I never met are giving me lessons for the future. There are lessons on endurance and adventure from ancestors who crossed the Atlantic to start a new life, like my 5th great grandmother Appollonia Dick who was born at sea in 1738. There are stories of strength from ancestors who fell on hard times and had to work several jobs to keep their children fed. They made it through the dark days and their family line continues today.
There are lessons on relationships. Look at Gasua Chapman Fortenberry, my 2nd great grand uncle, who married Sarah Brown in 1832. There had to have been both good and bad times for the couple. They had two daughters who died as toddlers and another who died as a young woman. Those tragedies can easily pull people apart. However, they were married for over 50 years. That’s a lesson in commitment that’s important for any era. In 1859 William J M Smith married Rachael Ellzey. They were married only three years when William died. The lesson for the future is not to take your partner for granted. You may have over fifty years together or only three years. These are messages about love for any decade.
Genealogy has ‘happy ever after’ stories that give us messages in hope and happiness. There is the story of my great grandfather who entered a boarding house in New York City to see a young Irish woman walking down the staircase and fell instantly in love. They married and had seven children. My maternal grandparents came from very different backgrounds and religions but were a devoted a loving couple.
Hope, happiness, love, commitment, endurance and strength are just a few lessons from the past for the future.