"Once You Get Beyond Your First Cousins, It Doesn't Really Matter".Recently it occurred to me that it was 10 years ago that I began my serious search for my family history. I had always been interested in my ancestry and thankfully, I came from a family of "packrats" that kept many pieces of historical documentation, photographs, and family Bibles. I had always known my great grandparents names so I had a good beginning, and as evidenced by a room full of binders and a wall covered with "First Families of...." certificates I clearly became an avid researcher of my genealogical history.
I have had some people question why it is so important to me to discover my ancestry. Early on, a friend said, "Once you get beyond your first cousins, it doesn't really matter". But, I didn't believe that and I still don't. Based upon what I have found, I think it proves that like many people, I am a living part of the history of America. In the past 10 years, here is only a fraction of the things I have learned about "who I am":
My DNA is 38% Irish. Of course the Irish branch of the tree is the one that is trying to grow through that huge brick wall.
I am the 5th great granddaughter of a man that was hanged for being a Tory in 1781, even though most accounts agree that he was probably not guilty.
I am the 2nd cousin, 5 times removed of a good friend of Abraham Lincoln's. So good in fact that the president once spent the night in his shed because my cousin's home had burned to the ground.
I am the 4th cousin, once removed of the man in whose honor Mt. Swadener is named. He was the navigator on the first plane that landed at the geographic South Pole.
My 5th great grandfather was first settler in Union Township, Clinton County, Ohio. He arrived there in 1801 with his rifle and his horse and cleared 200 acres of land for farming before going back for his wife and six children.
I am the descendant of at least 4 Revolutionary War Patriots, 1 Soldier of the War of 1812, 1 Civil War Veteran, a Cavalry bugler in World War I, and a Korean War B-29 Radio Operator. . I have relatives who marched through the French countryside and flew over German skies to victory in two World Wars.
I also admit to having a slave owner in my ancestry, but I also proudly boast several abolitionists.
I have founders of churches of numerous denominations, with a strong belief in a living God.
Sadly, I have cousins who were victims of vicious crimes and also several who committed crimes of a heinous nature.
In the last 10 years I have become a grandmother (twice!), I have lost a long term job, my husband went to school and began a new career at the age of 57, AND my life has also become so much richer because I have come to know grandparents, aunts, uncles, and yes, cousins, distant though they may be, because of my love of genealogy. I have come to appreciate my place in the history of my country because of my own history.
So, yes my friend, once your get beyond your first cousins, I believe it truly DOES matter. So, open up that binder, fire up the computer, and start searching!