A 100-year old notePosted May 25th, 2011 by Thomas Norman DeWolf
Sharon and I have completed the first three days of our journey. We’ve traveled over 1,400 miles through seven states. One aspect of our journey is genealogical research and how it can support people on our healing journey.
Yesterday we spent the day in Kentucky. I was searching for my grandfather and his ancestors. I knew approximately where he was born but hoped to find a record of his birth. Alas, as often happens, I didn’t find what I was looking for. However, as also often happens, I was blessed with several pleasant surprises.
We found the graves of my great, great grandfather and his three wives; one of which is my great, great grandmother. He outlived the first two and died eight years before the third. The four of them rest together side by side (by side, by side) in a church cemetery. Before yesterday I only knew he had two wives. I also found a description of my 4x great grandfather fighting under George Washington in the Revolutionary War.
The real gem of the day was when I found the marriage record of my great grandfather, David Jones Pinckley (my mother’s grandfather). Residing loosely in the binder at the county courthouse where their marriage is listed in 1898 is a hand-written note.
To hold that note gave me chills. I’m grateful that no one before me took it, which anyone could easily do. Some day another relative of mine will run across this note that was written by my great, great grandfather and experience the thrill that I did.
I spoke with my friend Vanessa Jackson today in Atlanta. We talked about the importance of knowing your own story–of knowing who you are and from whence you came–in order to more successfully travel the road of healing from historic trauma. Knowing your ancestors are standing with you is a comfort. Knowing who they were/are is a blessing.
The next couple of days will include searching for Sharon’s ancestors in courthouses and cemeteries. I hope we find a few more gems along the way. We’ll let you know.
Eastern Mennonite University
Harlem Book Fair
Phillis Wheatley Book Award
Post Racial Society
Summer Peacebuilding Institute
Tulsa race riot
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