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From the beginning of time, people charted where they came from.  You can read the descendents of Adam in the Old Testament (AKA the Hebrew Bible). Growing up, I remember a school project where I filled in a drawing a tree with information about my family.

The drive to learn where people come seems to grow each year. In the last twenty years technology advanced at a breakneck pace, allowing for genealogy work to grow by leaps and bounds. Given the increase drive people have for discovering their roots, it is probably a good thing.

This is the end of the Days of the Dead, a portion of the Halloween week that people forget about, but days set aside for remembering those gone before us.

November 1st is set aside as All Saints Day. We can remember the many saints and martyrs gone before us. Today, November 2nd, is All Souls Day, a day to remember our loved family and friends that preceded us through the veil of this life into the next.

The dead may no longer walk beside us, but they live on in our hearts. Their legacy is the life we live. What have we done in their name?

I do not write this as solely the author of Juan of the Dead, my yet unpublished and crazy WIP, but also as a lover of family history.  I want to challenge all of you to do something today that deals with your own family history. Watch for the challenge at the end of this post.

My love for family history should surprise no one that knew me growing up. My father’s family owns a 300 year old farmhouse in rural VA. The farmhouse came as a land grant to the family from the King of England when we were just a colony.  In fact, this very farmhouse saw referenced in a random line in the miniseries Roots back in the 1970’s that had over 100 million viewers. Who knew?

My area of Virginia was once home to several of the Founding Fathers of this nation.  My family knew some of them.  My family weathered the schism in this country that led to the Civil War. In fact we were close with JEB Stuart and his family.

So there is a rich and interesting family history just going down one branch of my family tree.

One of the things I liked to do as a little girl was listen to the stories of my grandparents and great grandparents.

My grandfather told me about listening to the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds by Orson Welles. Wow, was that interesting to hear about!  It caused so much hysteria at the time.

My great grandmother was the first person in her town to own a horseless carriage.  She taught school in a one room schoolhouse to a bunch of farmer kids. She told each kid to bring in something from the garden and would bring in a large kettle which she placed over the boiler. Together with her pot, some water, and the items the children brought, she made stews for everyone to eat at lunchtime.

She told me that she would go out to her car and crank it up. I marveled at the idea of a car that you needed to crank in order to get it to work! She also told me about a dip at the bottom of two hills with a little stream.  She was so afraid that her car would stop in that stream that she stopped at the top of the first hill. She would then get out of the car and crank it up and go pedal to the medal to get to the bottom, through the water, and up the next hill.

We have dairies and letters from ancestors.  Working with the local historical society, we hope to preserve these precious treasures for our family and our community.

I love my town and the rich American history it holds. I love that my family ties are all over this area.

I love that I have a day to reflect on all of this.  Indeed I am grateful for it.

Now here is my challenge to you. It is All Souls Day. Remember the stories of your ancestors. Write just one down and post it. If you can, go visit someone and get a story from them.  Work on your family tree. If you have never done family history work before, here’s a form you can download to record your family information.

Fill that out for your immediate family. Print extras and work on your parents.

If you are not new to family history, spend just a few minutes today working on some of your own family history.  Here’s a great resource… Family Search.  If you are LDS, go to the New Family Search and prepare a name. If you are LDS and can find the time, attend the Temple today. I wish I could.

Another thing you can do is work on Indexing.  One record takes only a ten to twenty minutes of your time, but will benefit those people around the world using the census to find information on their own ancestors.

Think you can do that? Just take 15-30 minutes of your busy day to spend thinking about your loved ones?  Maybe it could be what you are thankful for today for the Attitude of Gratitude challenge! I know I’m thankful for all the history my family has and how easy it is to learn about some of it. Wish the rest was that easy!

–Lady O

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