Or "Rednecks, Hard thoughts and Smart Kids"
by Uncle Hiram
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
Recently my 14 year old daughter and I took a trip down to East Texas to walk the cemeteries. Our first stop was Oakland Cemetery (about 10 miles from Grand Saline, Texas) Oakland is a small country cemetery dating back to the 1800's.
We started with the final resting place of Peggy Jean Lunsford my wife's mother. My daughter barely remembered Peggy who had passed away in 1990. We spent a few minutes talking about her before moving on to the next stone, the 2 year old daughter of wife's uncle, then Wade Dozier Lunsford, my wife's grandfather and his wife.
I explained to my daughter that the symbol's meant he was a veteran. His son's and daughters stones were next. She asked me how come so many people died in 1918 and how come so many kids died young back then. I explained to her about the Flu epidemic that killed millions in the first quarter of this century.
She was shocked that people used to die from the flu, and I told her "Buden, our medicine is better now, people are healthier, but we still lose a few folks every year."
Then we moved down to Hiram Lunsford, her GrGrGrandfather born in 1867 in Texas. While we were taking photo's of Hiram and his bunch she noticed a symbol on another stone the next row over. I found myself in the uncomfortable position of explaining a shameful episode of our past.
First, I pointed out to her that the person buried there was not related to us. Then I told her the symbol stood for the Ku Klux Klan, I explained to her that some people are afraid of anyone that is different. IN the case of the Klan these people put on sheets to cover their faces and went out and committed unspeakable crimes.
I then explained that they covered their faces because they were cowards and deserved only our scorn. I told her about the progress we as a people had made in eradicating that type of thinking, about outstanding Americans like Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King and Justice Clarence Thomas. I also explained to her the only way we can understand our ancestors and their motivations was to acknowledge all or our past. The Pride of ancestors who fought for their beliefs and the shame of ancestors who championed stupidity.
Some of Yall might be asking what in the world does this have to do with Genealogy. I am trying to not only know the names and dates associated with my ancestors but to understand them as much as I can. I realize that this is at best a daunting proposition because the basic thinking patterns have evolved so much. I would not for a second suggest we are better than our ancestors, just in some ways more civilized.
- Adios and Keep Smiling!
- Bill Hocutt (Uncle Hiram)