A couple of years after Lisa and I were married I began to get an interest in finding out about my heritage. For some reason that had never been important in our family and, at that time, I didn’t even know my grandfather’s name. When the thought of children came around I began to feel a real need to discover something about our history so that I could pass it on to my kids. With this motivation I began to dig in.
Having spent the last 20 years studying my family’s genealogy I still find myself fascinated by the things that I find. I found that my 5th great grandmother was Hannah Boone, the younger sister of pioneer Daniel Boone. Over time I’ve added literally thousands of people and hundreds of family stories to my data files. One day I’ll work and get these compiled and published (just one more item on my to do list).
My oldest brother had not been exposed to much of our family history other than a few casual conversations that we’d had over the years. When he and his wife came to visit us this summer I told him that we needed to spend a day uncovering some roots that he was unfamiliar with. We drove to Kentucky and saw the Old Mulkey Meeting House where she was a founding member and was eventually buried on the grounds.
As I stand there reading the old headstones and reading the histories of such people I begin to wonder about how they lived, loved, worked and thought. The questions roll through your mind and you ask yourself… What separates me from her besides 6 feet and 260 years?
How are we alike and how are we different?
What were her dreams and aspirations?
Did she see them fulfulled?
What would she think if she saw where her progeny have traveled over the last quarter millenium?
Would she be proud or ashamed?
If she had a chance to do it again, what would she do differently?
As I think on these matters I look another 260 years down the road and wonder about what the future holds for my own decendents. Will the day come when a 10th generation decendent of Hannah stands over a marker wondering about me the same way?It’s impossible to understand the inner most thoughts of those who have gone before us and it will be unlikely that those who follow us will come to understand all of the things of which we’ve dreamed. I’m sure that my motivations and aspirations will be as much a mystery to some future generation as her’s are to me. But, I believe also that it is up to each of us to do the best we can with the time and resources with which we’re blessed and to live a life in such a manner that our children…and their children will be proud.
I don’t know who my grandfather was; I’m much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)
July 3rd, 1999. Nathan and I started a journey. We started our walk to Africa.
All journeys begin somehow. In these days of daily trans-oceanic travel you’d think we’d start off a little auspicously. We were riding to the airport in Dallas with some friends to leave on our journey. The night before we took all of our luggage to their house to save us time this morning. So, after we got up and dressed, we started out trip by walking.
The images run through my mind like a cool, refreshing stream. I see the bright morning sun clearing the horizon. I feel the cool morning air in my throat. I see my 11 year old next to me as we begin the first big journey of his life.
At this point we’re only 100 yards into a multi thousand mile journey and we’re pumped. We’re ready to discover the new sites, experience new foods, new cultures, and a new way of life. I’m not sure who is most excited - him or me.
For thousands of years fathers and sons have journeyed together. They’ve traveled along, by foot, by horse, by wagon, and only recently (in historical terms) by cars, trains, and planes.
The time for modern transportation is later today. Right now I’m very content - walking to Africa.