|The Bible that was in Grandma Huey's house|
“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them.” – Joshua 4:6–7 (NIV)
Searching for pictures to use for Facebook’s “Throwback Thursday,” I’ve been rooting through the boxes of photos—all unorganized, of course—scattered throughout the house. I’ve found some great pictures—color family portraits, sepia-toned photographs of my husband’s forebears, black-and-white snapshots of our families. Few were labeled with who was in the photograph, where it was taken and when.
So I decided to make it a winter project to sort, label, and catalog the family pictures, including the ones that look like they date from the 1800s.
All this, of course, got me thinking about genealogy.
Back in Old Testament times, very little was written. But long lists of family lines are painstakingly included in the Bible (you know, the “begats” or “so-and-so was the son of so-and-so, who was the son of . . .”). Did you ever wonder how they remembered the names and places for thousands of years? Children were required to memorize their ancestral line.
Compare that to this: I know only as far back as my grandmother, who arrived in this country on May 4, 1910, from the town of Lenarts in what was then Hungary. I have her obituary, which provides the names of her husband, children, siblings, and parents.
But, shame on me, I don’t have the obituaries of my own parents!
Time to do some digging.
I called my brother, Pete—the only living relative from my past besides my cousins—this past week and asked him what he knew. I was especially interested in my father’s military service records. Two years ago, I wrote to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, requesting my father’s service records, only to learn they’d been destroyed in a fire.
Pete had a copy of my father’s obituary, which he photographed and emailed to me (isn’t modern technology wonderful?), but not my mother’s. While we were talking, he found the Maddock family Bible stored in a closet. I’d forgotten all about it.
The thick volume used to sit on the first shelf of a built-in bookcase in the living room when I was growing up. I loved to read all the information Mom and Dad wrote in the front, where pages were provided to record births, marriages, deaths, special events—and military records!
Recorded in Dad’s careful printing was everything I’d wanted to know—duty stations, years of service, injuries, awards—he’d been awarded a Bronze Star! Pete took a picture of the page and emailed it to me.
I opened a new file on my desktop and labeled it: “Family History Project.”
Looks like I’m going to be digging for my roots.
I wish I had done that over the years. But it’s not too late to start making a record of family history for my children and grandchildren.
Roots are, I’m learning, as important as wings.
Guide me and direct me, Father God, as I begin this journey into the past—a journey that will add meaning and purpose to the future and help me to understand myself better. Amen.