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Why Study Ancestry?

February 19, 2014 , , ,

I did not start studying genealogy with the expectation of spending years involved with my family tree. I did not expect to find much data, and thought I would be finished in a couple of weeks. In my sixth year of tracing my family back in time I could not imagine life without this research.  I have now relearned history by tracing my own DNA through it.  Believe me it becomes more interesting when you picture your own ancestors in events.  The timeline is an important tool in life to assess progress and enlightenment.  The same can be said of a much longer timeline, such as human history.  I am starting to understand the mass migrations caused by religions that have shaped the political world.  My people were motivated to take great risks and leave their known environments to follow religious convictions.  They crossed the Atlantic in rickety boats with nothing but beer to drink.  They froze and starved in the early American colonies.  They adventured way out west to Ohio and beyond after the Revolutionary War.  They fought on both sides of every British and American war, which is most revealing.

Ancestry.com is run by humans and therefore human error is part of it.  The site has gathered and continues to gather public records to share as well as trees published by members who make them public.  Often an unsubstantiated piece of data will be shared and repeated in the public tree arena.  Fortunately there are also wizards who find some errors, and advise the owners of bogus trees to double check the data.  I have twice needed to erase several generations of mistaken identity when I was given more information by a fellow family member. Bittersweet, erasing..I had become fond of the ancestors who were not really my own.  It was a horrible blow to be wrong about them, but this study is about verification and facts, not just being up in your tree.

I have been asked which are my favorite ancestors, to which I generally reply I like them all for surviving so I could be here now.  There are a few that I might love more than the others:

They are either well known or unknown, but all important to me and my existence.  If you take the two week trial I bet you will find something remarkable in your own family history.

What do you think?

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comments

Love your observations! I feel pretty much the same. I had to eliminate someone the other day. I lost a lot of people but the simplification was soothing. I try to use Ancestry first and then confirm that by looking at the genealogical Web Sites. It takes a lot of time but I enjoy it.

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Frederick Rehfeldt

February 19, 2014

I love your geneology posts – really interesting. Right now I am too busy to try this and focus (I’m moving house!) but maybe once I am settled again!

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Fiona Maclean

February 22, 2014

This is such an interesting thing that you are doing. I have wondered how you have done it and how long it takes. Your personal history is pretty stellar.. I loved Anne Dudley!

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Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

February 25, 2014

Off point, I suppose but so very interesting I felt compelled to share it:

Alice Herz-Sommer was 110 years old. She was an amazing lady—she lived entirely alone in a tiny London flat and played the piano for hours every day, practicing her beloved Bach and Beethoven. Seven decades ago she was a successful concert pianist in central Europe when she received her deportation summons from the Nazis. Her mother and husband had already been taken to Auschwitz by the time she and her five-year-old son were sent to the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp.

Her mother and husband were gassed by the Nazis; she and her son were liberated by the Soviet Army in May 1945. Her son, who became a concert cellist, died in 2001. A film about her life has been nominated for best short documentary at next month’s Academy Awards.

It is often claimed that “religion poisons everything,” to quote Christopher Hitchens. Richard Dawkins calls religion “the root of all evil.” When atrocities such as 9/11 are committed in the name of religion, “angry atheists” are quick to point to them as proof that religion is dangerous to humanity.

However, contrary to common assumption, the Holocaust was not caused by religion. Hitler hated the Jews because he was convinced that they were biologically and racially distinct and threatened the Aryan race he sought to advance. In the first half of the 20th century, 20 million people were killed in the U.S.S.R., 65 million in China, two million in North Korea, and two million in Cambodia. Each was a victim of a government that was officially atheistic. Are we to blame all atheists for such atrocities?

Note that Christians are persecuted far more than they persecute. More Christians have died for their faith than followers of all other religions, combined. While Christians make up a third of the world’s population, they suffer 80 percent of its religious discrimination. More believers died for their faith in the 20th century than in the previous 19, combined.

In Richard Dawkins’ non-religious universe there would be no Martin Luther King, Jr., no Gandhi or Mother Teresa, no Mozart, Bach, Rubens, or Michelangelo, no Red Cross or Salvation Army or St. Francis. And the remarkable achievements of the Jewish people, so many of them motivated by their faith, would be lost.

I have made more than 20 trips to Israel. I love its biblical significance, its beauty, and its people. Alice Herz-Sommer captured their spirit when she claimed, despite all she suffered, that “life is beautiful, love is beautiful, nature and music are beautiful. Everything we experience is a gift, a present we should cherish and pass on to those we love.”
(from Denison Forum)

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Frederick Rehfeldt

February 25, 2014

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