During these difficult times, think about your favorite genealogy experiences. Record them and share them with family.
One of my favorite memories is of the day I drove to the top of Lone Mountain in Tennessee. As I walked around the cemetery, I searched for the grave of my Yadon ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War.
I vividly remember the moment I spotted the bronze marker that listed his name and military service. I imagined him as a teenager from Ireland who carried the British flag, was captured and changed his allegiance to the United States. The experience was inspirational as I stood at his grave, viewed the surrounding mountains and reflected on his extraordinary life.
I also cherish the amazing day I walked along the cobblestone street in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and stepped inside the first Mennonite meetinghouse in America. The grave of my ancestor Dirck Keyser, one of the first Mennonite ministers, was next to the entrance path.
Another unique memory is of the day we went to Scotland, Connecticut, and I stood in the entrance to the old Congregational church and saw the framed charter of its founders. Among the signatures were those of my ancestors Edward Waldo and his wife, Thankful Dimmick.
Their graves were in a cemetery across the road. It was an eerie experience to see their tall, thin gravestones that had Puritan symbols of skulls and flowing hair. We also took a tour of their red, saltbox style home that they built in 1715.
One of my funniest memories happened when we visited the grave of my great-grandmother Bertha (Janke) Chancel, an emigrant from Pomerania region near the Oder River. My dad often repeated the story his mom told him about the day of her mother’s funeral.
After the service the family planted a cedar tree near her gravestone. As we drove south of Peck, Kansas, I told Jim, “Her grave will be easy to find. We just look for a huge cedar tree.”
When we drove up to the cemetery, we both broke out in hysterical laughter. Everyone planted cedars on graves. The cemetery was a cedar forest.
This week the television series “Finding Your Roots” began a new season. The programs are on PBS and WFYI stations. The series started in 2012 and is hosted by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. The next program is on at 8 p.m., Oct. 20. Because the days and hours vary for future episodes, check your local schedule for other showings.
The series traces the ancestry of famous people. Through their stories, viewers gain insight into the rich melting pot that has shaped our American history. I love to watch the reactions of guests as they find graves, search through documents, visit old homesites, and discover relatives. Their reactions spark my memories of similar experiences.
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