Reflections on Family History: The Musings of an Irreverent Colonial

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"Perhaps because their country's history is short, Americans value it all the more. Perhaps in youthful enthusiasm, we have learned something in reflecting on our brief past and our families' few generations in the land. This descendant of early Virginia settlers has some experiences in, and thoughts on, the value of pursuing family history to reflect upon and share.

There is a saying that there are two great gifts you can give your children: the first is roots and the second is wings. It was my luck to receive these gifts. For roots, I lived in a four-generation household, bathed in family history. My maternal great-great grandfather built our house in 1878. We had little that was new. Sometimes I envied friends in their suburban ranch houses of the 1950s filled with shiny new suites of furniture.

Over the years, I came to treasure every stick of old furniture in our house. I knew whose it was and how it had come there, whether by wagon or by train, over the Allegheny mountains from eastern Virginia.I hope that my children will treasure these pieces, remember their stories, and tell them to their children."

In this article, the author reflects on her own family history, and the importance of family history research.

Katharine L. Brown

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