Genealogy. What Stories Can You Tell?

General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York

My uncle, who, for reasons I did not understand until I was in my 40s, never met his father, was fascinated by genealogy. Because of his interest and diligent research, including several trips to Ireland, I learned chilling and historically fascinating stories about our ancestors. My cousin has consolidated his father’s papers and taken up the research.

In just one example, my mother’s ancestors, Scottish textile merchants, were approached by the British to resettle in Ireland, which they did. Some years later, textile exports from Ireland were restricted and they resettled to the United States.

And yet, I have not shared these stories with my children. I think they would be surprised to know they have an Irish background, or, further back, a Scottish one. They might be interested to know that our ancestors, a generation or two into their American resettlement, were offered a chance to return to Ireland and reclaim the land they left.

They are more familiar with their father’s straight-line descent from a French sailor who served under Lafayette. He asked, and was granted, permission to settle in the United States after the Revolutionary War.

My father’s father, diligent about documenting his awards, with photos and the awards themselves, showing his rise from the mail room to the executive suites at General Electric, failed to mention the story of how he came to be named, a story hand-written in a letter buried in a family scrapbook, that speaks of indecision and a family patriarch taking charge to name his grandson.

It wasn’t until I visited my father’s birth city of Schenectady, New York, that I learned his mother was the first generation descendant of a German blacksmith. His blacksmith shop site is still marked by a historical marker.

Grandparents, who both understand the value of family genealogy and remember the stories, can help their grandchildren understand their place in the world by writing these stories down while they still remember them.

We can help. Add a comment below if you are interested in attending a workshop on how to write your autobiography for your grandchildren and we will be in touch.

Let the genealogy of your family make its way into your grandchildren’s lives.

Let’s write those stories down while they are still fresh.

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