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Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 Edith Morris


Catchword Corner

March 2008

The Heritage of Generations

I'm sort of addicted to genealogy. That means I enjoy researching our various family trees. Why do I do it I wonder? Someone said to me "Why do you want to be nosey about all those dead people?" "Why indeed?" I sometime ask myself. May be it's because one day I'll be dead and will anyone be interested in my life in 100 years time? Probably not!

I absorb myself in endless branches that reveal new names and new facts about our ancestors. Time stands still as I shuffle through papers dating back 50, 100, and even 300 years. Someone wanted to preserve their family line and now I can hold in my hot hand the written remnants of their history, all that remains of the evidence that they lived and died.

I peer at old photographs with my strongest magnifying glass and think "Oh that just looks like .." Who does it look like? Some family resemblances are so obvious that it seems the centuries between generations don't even exist.

What a thrill when a new bit of information is found to pad out an ancestor's life. I once randomly responded to someone looking for a certain family line. Three years later that person e-mailed with a huge chunk of my family tree, totally unknown to me. I found my roots. I found where my grandfather was born, and where they lived for generations before uprooting and coming to Australia and New Zealand. Is that why I feel a tingle up my spine whenever I hear the bagpipes? My grandson said one day when I was selecting bagpipe music for my radio programme "It gives me a headache." Oh well ....

I've stumbled around graveyards in the outbacks of Australia, in the long wet grass in England and Scotland, and windy hills in the South Island to find fragments of clues on headstones.

In one family line I found some "Sirs", a QC, and many Colonels, and another family had consecutive Vicars for 380 years in a small English village church (his). I found a few scallywags and ratbags on another side of the family (mine). The accumulation of DNA deposited in me adds to the colour and character of who I am, and to the richness of my family members living today.