On Knowing My Ancestors' Names | Short Thoughts #2



I heard a speaker a few months back who pointed out that by the fourth generation, your descendants probably won't know your name.

That thought immediately pierced my heart.  "No," I thought, "surely not," and I scrambled to extract my great-great-grandparents names from my brain.

I came up with nothing.


It made me really sad to think that their names could be so easily lost, not to mention their stories.

Another Reason I Blog

I like to think that this blog will help my grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and beyond, to know me some day. So maybe I won’t be just a name, but if they want to, they could dig a little and know what my life was like, what I thought when I held my children for the first time, what aspects of my personality might have passed on to them.

I wonder those things about my ancestors. I wonder what it was like to live at the dawn of the last century, what struggles they faced, how they handled things. I wonder if any of them ever kept a diary, and if so, what ever happened to it? Surely I’m not the first in my family with this drive to document personal stories.

(Me, and the first generation after me, on a hike this week!  Isn't the slight golden tint to the leaves gorgeous?  I like to think a love for the mountains is passed down from generation to generation.)

Anyway, with all this running through my brain the last couple months, I’ve been gathering names from my grandparents, writing down details that they remember, trying to preserve these memories. Trying to think of different ways to do that so it would actually work, since not everyone wants to record all their innermost thoughts on a blog like I do.

A Resource I Wanted To Share

In perfect timing, this book caught my eye:

(Note: I am on the launch team for this book and got a free copy.)







I knew I had to have it.

I was able to join the launch team for the book, so I got a free copy, but I’m actually thinking of buying a few more as gifts for my parents and grandparents!

Dear Grandchild, This Is Me is a prompt book to help someone get started in recording bits of their life story. There are a ton of questions, as well as more unique pages like envelopes to tuck in letters, a map to record all the places you’ve traveled, places to write memories of historical events, etc.

The only complaint about this book that I have is that some of the “where were you when...” historical events were kind of a stretch. Is Michael Jackson’s death really noteworthy? Should we even honor a per.vert with a mention in a book like this? I think not. I might scratch out his name and write “Elvis’s death” or something instead.

Aside from that, I will mention that this book is really versatile. Several pages have “choose your own question” options, so if one prompt doesn’t apply to someone’s life and personality, a different one will. The whole idea is just to get started in recording life memories, and this book is such a great tool for that! 

I want to pass this book on to my parents and grandparents, but I also might even fill out some of the book for my own grandkids...or maybe I’ll just take some of the questions and write about them here, as is my style.

Back To My Ancestors

Back to the topic of ancestors though, now that I have a few names, I am seriously considering joining Ancestry.com to see if I can start to construct a family tree. I have a few records and names from my parents and grandparents, and I’d like to continue, for my own curiosity and for the sake of my kids. I really don’t want to be one of those people who can’t name their great-great grandparents, and I want my kids to know who they came from too.


Have you ever looked into your family tree? Can you go back four generations, or are you wracking your brain and coming up empty like I did?

Video review here, if you want a closer look at the book:


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Rachel said...

That is a really cool journal idea! It's so important to be able to get the stories and records of previous generations--I think it really helps with the connection to family. I know all of the stories of my great-grandparents well, and knew 5 of them in person, and Cyrus and the next baby are both named after my great-grandpas...but great-great-grandparents....that gets a lot harder! On my dad's side I know a few more of the names, and have visited the cemetery plots where they are buried, and my grandpa has kept pretty good records. On my mom's side, I know more in the way of stories or 'family legends' and helped my grandpa with writing down some stories from past generations but I don't know the names or details that well.
Angel knows very little of his family history, though I was able to find out from his mom the names of all of his grandparents for Cyrus's baby book

Elizabeth said...

Ohhh, putting this on my wishlist! My blog definitely will provide some clues, as well as emails to my sister. I've done lots of genealogy research. It was fascinating to read about actual naming traditions in places like Scotland, which helped when I got stuck. But beyond my great-grandparents I don't know the names by heart. I wanted to do more of my dad's side but I'm not sure if it will happen while he's still alive. :/

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