Peering into the past

Bloganuary: How far back in your family tree can you go?

On my husband’s side of the family, they can trace their tree back to the Safavids. (Cool, yes?) On my side of the family, not quite so far.

Both my parents did work on pulling together the family tree. Most of these notes are handwritten or on an old laptop. I’m the keeper of all this now. It’s occurred to me that if I don’t keep them, they’ll be lost forever.

So, yes, genealogy is on my list of things I’d like to tackle this year.

A few months back, I fell down an internet rabbit hole. I knew my grandfather (mother’s side) emigrated from Sweden. He died young—when my mom was six—trying to save another firefighter in a furniture factory fire. This story is part of our family lore. In searching for more information on that, I found a news article listing the names of people who gained citizenship due to their service in World War I.

My grandfather’s name was among those listed. And I was all:

Wait. What?

Considering I spent six years on active duty in the Army, you’d think his service would have come up in conversation. After all, I knew the uncle who flew in WWII. Plus, there’s a story about a German ancestor who fought for the Union during the Civil War.

Now I wonder if my mom even knew about this. Or if the firefighter part of her father’s persona and our family history (her grandfather was a fire chief) simply eclipsed this part of his life.

I’ll never know the answers to those questions. Still, I hope to uncover more about his time in the service. If I can piece together some fragments, I might have a clearer view into the past.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Peering into the past

  1. Pretty amazing to stumble on a story that even your own mother might not have known. It sounds like your inherited role as family genealogist might provide inspiration for an entirely new set of stories.

    I finally moved all the photos, slides (10,000+!!!) news clippings, and various other memorabilia from my parents into a closet that I call The Memory Palace. Still working up the nerve to look much more closely at it…

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