Monday, January 23, 2012

Why Do the Boys Get All the Attention?

            As a girl-child I grew up knowing that I was “supposed” to be a boy.  So were my three sisters.  Why do I have three sisters?  Because none of them was a boy.  I’m pretty sure that had Barb been a boy there would be just two of us kids.
            Growing up we always heard stories of my Dad’s life:  snowstorms, adventures, school stunts, etc.  And we heard stories of his family, particularly his dad’s side of the family.  It seemed that only the boys counted.
            Fast-forward to more recent times.  I am now a genealogist, family historian, and regular run-of-the-mill historian.  I am not a radical feminist.  I am merely interested in ALL of the truth of my story, not just part of one line.
            On my Dad’s side I have discovered the female line is very interesting.  It makes me sad to realize that none of my Grandma’s stories were preserved, so I am left with a lot of questions that genealogy won’t ever be able to answer:  what did her mother do after her father died in his early 30s?  what did Grandma know about her father’s father, a Civil War soldier who suffered from PTSD and abandoned his family?  when did she leave school and why?  did her family value education?  did she have to help support the family after her father’s death?
            Then I turn to my mother’s side of the family.
            Riches abound!
            We have a murdered lady on that side of the family.  THAT story is full of intrigue and also demonstrates the biases and bigotry of the time as two men were hung for the murder when clearly one of them was in jail on another charge when the murder was committed.  But they were Irish Catholics in a land of German Protestants, so…..  And besides, the man who benefitted from Polly’s murder, a neighbor who coveted her farm, was too important to bring to trial for a sordid murder done by bashing an old woman’s brains out.
Then we have a man who married the gal who lived across the street – they didn’t speak each other’s languages and neither spoke English, yet their son was a school teacher. 
We have a family line that splits and then reconnects about three or four generations later when Tasker married Tasker.
We have fires, floods, romance, and tragedies all along my Mom’s side of the family
In other words, they are just as interesting as my Dad’s family.
I have a son who is also a history buff.  He tells me that genealogy isn’t his “thing” yet he is always interested when I impart some tidbit of family history to him.  I make certain to be fair-minded and even-handed:  I alternate between my Mom’s family and my Dad’s family.  And sometimes I do some research on his Dad’s family so that he isn’t completely in the dark about half of himself.
Because ultimately, isn’t that why we care about our family history and genealogy?  Don’t we believe that the stories of our past somehow explain who and what we are today?  And if we fail to learn about a full one-half of our history, we will never be able to learn the lessons, or uncover the great stories, that our past can offer.  

No comments:

Post a Comment