Leaving Your Lessons Behind

TreeAs Genealogists we fully understand the importance of leaving behind as much information and documentation as possible for the next generations. Most of us have struggled to obtain what we have and may have already made a commitment to make it easier for our descendants. The problem is what SHOULD we leave for those coming behind us?

There are many Blogs out there that give us ideas of the some of the categories we may want to write about. Some are topics like writing about our own childhood, what was popular in our culture, writing about our religion and why we chose it, and much more. So I thought I would just throw one more idea into the mix.

Lessons Learned

As we grow older, hopefully we have learned a few lessons in life. We have had some good and bad experiences as a result of some decisions we have made. I believe that these are some of the things we should also write about. I mean most of us have told our own children about making right decisions and why, so why not share those with future generations? I would love to know why some of my Ancestors made the decision to move from one place to another, why they chose the occupation they had and so much more.

part 4If you have read my series about my Mom and her superstations back in October you would know why that when I got married and had children I decided then that I would NOT be anything like her.  There have been many times in my life when I have been faced with a decision and I have literally thought “What would Mom do?” and then I would do the exact opposite.  I becamequestion mark a widow at the age of 31, being left with 3 children; I learned a lot of lessons. My husband had committed suicide as a result of a pornography addiction so I had to learn how to deal with that. I started a ministry for women whose husbands, boyfriends or fathers had a porn addiction and as a result I have counseled thousands of women. My husband of 28 years, was diagnosed with vascular dementia seven years ago and believe me, I have learned a tremendous amount of lessons from that!

These are the lessons I want to leave for my grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all those who come after me. If I, by leaving behind a written documentation of what I have been through in life can write about the lessons I have learned while going through it all and those lessons can help future generations, then I will feel that it has all been worth it.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

9 Ways to Discover Your Religious Heritage and Passing Yours on to the Next Generation.

Park Ave Chirstian Church - Drive in Church
Park Ave Christian Church – Drive-in Church

Growing up I went to Church every Sunday morning. My family attended Park Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tucson AZ, the one my parents joined shortly after moving to Arizona when I was 11 months old. It wasn’t until I started school that I learned that there were other churches and religions in the world and that there were even some people who didn’t believe in God at all. It was also the time I discovered that our Church was a little unique. We had one of the two Drive-in Churches in the entire United States. In 1956 our pastor made a trip to Florida and saw a Church that had built one the previous year and he decided that he wanted one. So my Dad, along with a couple of other members built the small enclosed red brick building where the pastor would deliver his sermons each Sunday. They installed the poles and speakers and it was “open for business”. My parents loved going to the Drive-in Church because they didn’t have to get dressed up and they could smoke in the car during the service. My sister and I liked it because we could wear our pajamas and read or play in the back seat. I thought this was normal.

Now as an adult I attend a totally different denominational Church. I began to wonder how our family became the religion that we were. What religion or denomination did my Ancestors choose and why? I wondered if any of them had been Atheists. Did any of them flee to America so they could practice their faith, free from persecution?  I wanted to search for this information but I wasn’t certain of where to begin. I started looking through the documents I had acquired for my Ancestors and as a result I was able to piece together a pretty good description of what religions my family had practiced.

Here are 9 of the places and document types where I found my “Religious Heritage”.

 

  1. Church records. This is one of those “duh” moments. Where else would you look? A lot of the older churches kept very precise records. Not of just who attended their church but of many different events. These records can have a person’s date of birth, the date they were baptized, their marriage and death date and place of burial. They also can list family names, their participation in church activities, and a confession of their “sins” and in some cases their testimony as to why they became Christians. If an Ancestor was a minister it would also include a list of the previous churches he had pastored and the places where he had preached. These records can be a treasure trove of information.

 

  1. Wills. You may find which religion a person was by reading through their Will. In some cases an Ancestor will leave a possession, money or land to a church. You can then conclude that this church was associated with their religion. Most Will’s begin with a Statement of Faith and by reading this you could possibly determine what they believed.

 

 

  1. Marriage Records. Listed on the marriage certificate is the name of the person who conducted the ceremony. If it was
    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.
    Marriage Record stating name of Church and the Ministers name.
    a priest or pastor you can do a search of that name to find out which religion they were associated with. In some cases, especially in the 1800’s they even listed the name of the church on the certificate. You can also check your Ancestors childrens marriage certificates as they may have this information on them, especially if you can’t find a marriage certificate for the parents.

 

  1. Death Certificates. In newer Death Certificates there is a place where you can state which religion a person is. This information is given by an informant and may not be correct but it is at least a place to start your search.

 

 

Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.
Obituary stating name of Church Rosa attended.
  1. Obituaries. Obituaries are an excellent place to look. Sometimes they even list the name of the church they were a member of or the name of the minister and I have found a few that give a short testimony of when a person decided to attend this church or convert to this religion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

65th Wedding Anniversary clipping states Church.

  1. Newspapers. Newspaper clippings celebrating special events in a persons’ life can give you additional information. In an article covering one of my cousins 65th Wedding Anniversary it states the name of the Church they attended. I was able to contact the Church and found records of other Ancestors who also attended this Church

 

 

  1. Cemetery. This one sounds strange but you can sometimes determine religion by their place of burial. A non-Catholic would not be buried in a Catholic Cemetery. The same goes for the Jewish faith. Also a lot of cemeteries are attached to Churches and you can assume that if your Ancestor was buried there then they may have been members. At least it would be a place to start further research.

 

John Page Church Plaque
John Page Church Plaque
  1. Histories. If your Ancestor was a pioneer in an area they could be included in the History of that place. I have found several relatives who were founders of town or counties so a lot is written about them, including which church they attended. You can also find the names of Churches in the area that your Ancestor lived and then do a search of Church Records in those specific Churches for their names. You never know what you may find!

 

 

  1. Family Bibles. If you are lucky enough to have in your possession an old family Bible then it may shed some light on what your Ancestor believed and what religion they were. Hopefully it also includes a list of family members, births, marriages, deaths, baptisms etc. This indeed would be a treasure.

 

This is not an exhaustive list of places to look but it is a start. Unfortunately, unless your Ancestor was famous you may never know why they chose the Religion or beliefs that they held.  It has been interesting to see the progression of my “Religious Heritage” beginning with my Ancestors being Catholic, to becoming Quakers, to converting to Presbyterian, then to Methodists, Baptist and ending with my parents being Disciples of Christ.

This is actually a 2 part endeavor. The first part is finding what religion if any, that your Ancestors practiced. The second part would be passing on your beliefs to the next generations. We have an opportunity to explain to our Great-Great Grandchildren what religion we are and why we chose this certain path. If you do not believe in God, this is the chance you have to let them know your reasoning for that. You can include your traditions, activities, favorite scripture or quote, give a testimony, or whatever you feel is the most important things you would want them to know.

How I wish my Ancestors would have left something in writing explaining to me the how’s and why’s of their choices when it came to religion.  So I will write the story of how I came to believe as I believe so my future family will not have to guess at it.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

Star Wars versus the Revolutionary War-Engaging the Next Generation

Throughout the month of May people are posting Blogs entitled “Military Memories” to honor their Ancestors who fought in the various Wars. I have been so moved by all the accounts of bravery, courage and sacrifice of so many of them. I have always loved History so reading these is enjoyable for me. I guess you could say that I have a hard time believing that some people just do not find History to be interesting or exciting.

Last week my youngest Grandson Banon, who is 7 years old and in the first grade, asked me why I was crying while looking at my computer. I told him I was reading a Blog about a young man who was killed in a War and that it was sad.  He responded “Grandma, I don’t like History, it’s so boring!” I was mortified! How could a Grandson of mine feel this way? I asked him why he thought it was boring and he said “Because all those people are dead!” Oh my…where did I go wrong?

Image

As the day wore on I started thinking about what he had said about History being boring.  Then it hit me. I need to make it personal for him! So I pulled out the binders I had made for my older Grandkids a few years ago and called him over to me. Now he is a diehard Star Wars fan. He knows every character, every weapon, and every mode of transportation by name. This gave me the idea to make a correlation between Star Wars and the Revolutionary War. Before you think that I have totally lost it, please hear me out. I asked him what it was about the fighting in Star Wars that he liked. He then rattled off his reasons. I then asked him if he would like to hear about a real war where, just like Anakin, people fought to make their families free from a Ruler. He took the bait.

After explaining “briefly” about why America went to war with Britain, I started telling him about the different weapons that were used and how they had used horses and wagons for transportation. I then told him about the way they dressed.…the Red Coats vs. the Blue Coats. Then I finally took one of the binders and showed it to him. I saw a spark appear in his eyes! You see, 5 years ago when my oldest Grand Daughter started High School she told me that EBAY and Binders 001they were going to learn about the Revolutionary War in History Class. I told her we had Ancestors who fought in the War and she got excited. So I put together 3 binders with all the information I could find about the Soldiers, the company they fought with, who they fought under and named the Battles they participated in. I used maps and pictures of the Historic places. I also included a linage from that Ancestor to me. She loved them and took them to school. She got an A+ when she did her presentation on the War. I had made it personal to her and she was inspired to do her own research. Over the last few years 2 more Grandchildren have used the binders and since then I have made several more. So I made it personal for Banon and he was enthralled. He asked so many questions he actually wore me out. His teacher even told my daughter that all he talked about since then was those binders and we had to take them to school for the teacher and his class to see.

EBAY and Binders 030I have also put together binders for Ancestors who fought in the Civil War, the War of 1812, WWI and WWII. I even have a few binders about our First Ancestors that came to America. I intend to show these to Banon and his brother over the summer.

Sometimes we have to just go that extra mile to engage the younger generation in learning about History and their Genealogy. If we can start them young then they will hopefully develop an interest and excitement in finding their Ancestors and where they came from. Hopefully igniting that spark of curiosity in him will eventually burn with the same kind of passion for Genealogy and History that I have. After all, isn’t one of our goals as a Family Historian to be able to pass on what we have discovered to the generations that come after us?

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.