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Inspired and Encouraged by Our Ancestors

This article encourages genealogy enthusiasts to develop and enhance previous research stories of their ancestors during times of transition and discouragement in their lives. Several web sites are provided as sample tools to analyze stories and connect your ancestors in today's world.

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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Vicki Boartfield
Word Count: 581 (approx.)
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Just recently, my husband, two grown children, one beagle, two cats, one fish and I moved across the U.S. from the West to the East coast. It was a horrible transition where everything seemed to go wrong. There were budget restraints, stress for our animals' safety, rainy travel conditions, and a home to find. We moved from hotels to apartments to finally a home in the country. It took the USPS a month to forward our mail correctly! I had a feeling of fear and the unknown. I was losing my self-confidence, as I struggled to find a teaching job in my new surroundings.

When I felt it was almost hopeless, I turned to my genealogy notebooks and began to organize and survey my ancestors' stories. I remembered that several of my ancestors had traveled extensively overseas. I needed some insight into my heritage. I discovered amazing similarities from their dreams and aspirations to mine.

From a 1965 telegram, I learned that my great aunt had been a teacher for 47 years and had been given the honor of a dormitory hall named after her in a small Christian college in Michigan. I also discovered that because of her compassion and love for animals, she became the founder of the first humane society in her town. Two special aunts of mine traveled together for educational language studies to cities such as Vienna, London and Versailles. As I continued to read and study their detailed experiences in a foreign country, I finally felt encouragement and inspiration at a time of panic and distance in my life.

I also gained the knowledge that my second-great-grandfather from England was a biography writer of famous preachers, and his death was on the very same day that President McKinley was assassinated in New York.

It became very obvious that looking back at old letters, journals and obituaries of my ancestors was therapy. It encouraged me to research more. I moved my discouraged body to the computer towards the Internet and searched in the archives section of the college that had honored my great aunt. I found that college web sites are priceless. My great-aunt had written a book and many articles for the college newspaper in her small town in Michigan. I also found that she had been given an honorary degree -- in "Literature"! I immediately experienced hope and confidence that perhaps I would find the teaching job I was destined for.

Our family's tremendous transition of moving across the U.S. paid off. Soon after, I was offered a wonderful Language Arts teaching position a few miles from our new home. I was excited and overwhelmed with the connections I had found from my ancestors. I also found in my readings other ancestors who were teachers, and some were preachers and missionaries.

Convincingly, we can appreciate that changing locations and starting over in a new city provides us the opportunity to organize our treasures and find extraordinary links we did not know existed. Perhaps we also learn that sometimes we have to suffer a little to realize a lot.

I encourage all genealogy enthusiasts to look back in your records, study your family stories and pick out pieces of information that you can develop on researching on the Internet. Several web sites that may be helpful are university libraries, historical societies and newspaper obituaries.

Some of the web sites I used are provided here by way of example:
Adrian College
Historical Society of Michigan
Bentley Historical Society
Lenawee County, Michigan Obituaries

Happy Inspirations everyone!

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2007.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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