Kings, Princes, Paupers, Explorers, Indian fighters, Indians, Pilgrims, Pioneers, Plague Survivors, Artists, Authors, Mariners, Dreamers and Adventurers’ … through them I exist. The number of our ancestors is mind boggling. Just back 40 generations = 2 Trillion, yes Trillion, ancestors to make me or you. Of course, that is not 2 Trillion unique individuals … the further back one goes, the more redundancy in family lines and people. If only 10% of Europe’s population survived the great plagues, well, you can see the further we go back in time the fewer unique ancestors we have and in the end … we are all family.
Out of the 2 Trillion ancestors I have (we have), I know few of them. I’ve known those near me, generationally speaking, my parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. The connections to their parents and grandparents lost as they died and they left a few stories and fewer photographs. Their parents and generations back have for many years been forgotten and are generally only a name and a date in a book on a shelf.
However, their stories are calling to me, find me, write them down. Some five years ago I wanted to share with my family their ancestors. I spent six months and prepared for two family history weekends; one in which we told stories of our Utah Pioneer heritage and did a road trip throughout Utah and Wasatch Counties. The second weekend we caravaned to Wyoming and spent three days reenacting a part of our family’s story, through a pioneer handcart trek in Martin’s Cove, WY.
As I started searching for stories of the people in our family who first came to America, and then found those that brought our family to Utah … (I started by taking the genealogy books off of the shelf) they came alive … they became real people who lived through turbulent times, loved, had families, gave up their lives, their homes, left family and friends to step onto a new land … to live something new. A new beginning, a fresh start.
Five years later, I am being prompted to find more stories … and to share them. Those few stories I found for our My Heritage, My Legacy weekends have only whetted my desire to learn more about my ancestors and also to write my own story. I’m an adrenaline junkie and when I read from a personal journal or recollection my heart starts thumping a bit harder, I hold my breath and sometimes the tears can’t be held back … it’s like finding buried treasure. When I read or write about them, once again these ancestors live. At that moment, sometimes I think, someone hasn’t said that name out loud for years … and now they aren’t forgotten any longer. Our stories may be only a short sentence in the scheme of history; but that sentence is everything … without our ancestors we wouldn’t be where we are and without us our posterity can’t be all they are meant to be.
My question today is the same as it was five years ago … I have a wonderful heritage … What will be my legacy?