A Grumpy Old Man’s Take on Historical Context
By Pat Smart,
Copyright (c), 2023
Have you ever wondered why Great Uncle Bob always had a stash of canned beans in the cellar? Or why Grandma Maureen, in all her photos, had that look in her eyes, a mixture of determination and weariness? It is not just about having names and dates in your family tree. It’s the history, the backdrop, and the context!
Understanding history ain’t just for school kids. Digging into your ancestors’ world is like adding color to an old black-and-white photo. Wars, migration, depressions – these weren’t just topics in a textbook. They shaped your family’s stories. They give insight into what made your ancestors who they were, where you were born, and the traits and customs you grew up with.
I was born in Oklahoma. My ancestors mostly came from England and Ireland. They migrated from Tennessee to the “Indian Nations” in Oklahoma. I have stories of Old West shootouts and fast cars running from the law. I also have stories of a minister and of compassion during the Great Depression. My life has become richer, having my Ancestor’s past come alive. They popped out of the past and become more than just memories of days long gone.
Did your great-great-grandparents move across states or even oceans? Was it for gold, land, or fleeing from conflict? Knowing the ‘why’ makes their journey come alive. And what about that factory your family worked in? Maybe it was due to the economic booms and busts of their time. Were you born in California? Did your ancestors move there from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl? We could be Cousins.
Understanding the times they lived in is more than just curiosity. It enriches your lineage’s tapestry. So next time you’re deep in your family research, don’t skip over world events. You’ll be amazed at the insight they offer.
It’s not just about who and when, but the why and how. When you grasp that, your family story will be, like mine, richer for it. Just another piece of advice from the Grumpy Old Man!