Recently a very special thing happened to me. My great-great grandfather's telescope found its way to me. He was a career sailor, eventually a ship's captain, and he used this telescope to find his way around the oceans of the world. After his untimely death, this object was stored by his family members, kept as a memory of his being. Over time it was passed from one family member to the next; it went for a journey to New Zealand, where he had lived for a time, and did much of his sailing.
And then it found its way to me. I, too, sail, though in a smaller way than he, and I know that it is his salt water in my veins. Now I look through the same lens as he, and objects distant seem much closer than before.
Did that telescope find its own way to me? Do objects have a memory, a purpose, a sense of ownership? Did it find its own way to the light again, to a place where the descendant of its owner might again hold it to his eye and regard the world with its aid?
Or was this the doing of a series of concerned custodians? Each of them holding a cherished object in their care for a time, then passing it to the next in turn? Surely my time will come in turn to pass this keepsake to the next in turn.
Surely genealogy is both of these things: a lens that makes distant things much closer and more meaningful, and a cherished keepsake that is passed from one custodian to the next, to keep alive and living the memories and deeds of those who have gone before us.
If genealogy tells us all one thing it is this: every single one of us is the sum of their two parents, and their four grandparents, and their eight grandparents, and their sixteen great-grandparents, and so on, and so on. And that is the same for every single one of us - we are each the collective input of every single myriad ancestor that has gone before us. We are each custodian for a time, and then we must pass it forward. Genealogy is the story of each of us, and all of us.
Erratum - (Wikitree tells me that I am directly descended from William the Conqueror, 28 generations before.) Perhaps it is a sign - even a Badge, if you will - of one's coming of age on Wikitree, when one corrects the errors of others, and consequently disproves one's own pedigree.......
June 2020 - A further shining example of Family History connecting to Family Present came to light recently. A family member who fathered a daughter in France shortly after WW1 was unable to maintain contact with this child when he returned to Australia. He took the secret of her existence to his grave with him. We were recently contacted by this daughter's granddaughter, who had located us by a DNA test, and a mystery spanning a century and two hemispheres was finally unravelled.
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
David is 28 degrees from Larry King, 28 degrees from Edward Bradley, 27 degrees from Walter Cronkite, 24 degrees from Chester Robert Huntley, 29 degrees from Peter Jennings, 25 degrees from Frank McGee, 25 degrees from Edward R. Murrow, 27 degrees from Cokie Roberts, 37 degrees from Léon Zitrone and 25 degrees from Joelle Colville-Hanson on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.