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Thankful for history


For a couple years my father has been digging into his and my mother’s family history. When I was younger any talk of something like this would have generated an eye roll from me but as I get older my interest in who and what came before me has grown.

Recently, he has made headway in our family tree through a number of online archives and forums. From the local paper keyword searches have helped him come across classified ads taken out by ancestors, court records, obituaries and more. All of these have begun to paint a picture of those who came before us.

As he showed me his progress yesterday the variety of addresses that came with publications was intriguing. Professional and personal motions often came with an allusion to where someone lived or a specific address. I live on the 3500 block of Illinois and my great, great aunt Edna lived on the 3300 block. My mother moved away from her childhood home when she was five and could not remember where her house was other than on Arkansas. Through my dad’s digging, I now know her first childhood home is a mile away from where I now live. She grew up at the intersection of Potomac and Arkansas and I live near Potomac and Illinois. How much smaller can the world get?

Perhaps the most intriguing thing to have encountered was a newspaper article from July of 1893, interviewing a 100-year-old resident who had been a tax collector. While the reporter sat with the man, the conversation moved to the city’s history and who might’ve called it home and the man being interviewed informed the reporter he didn’t have to wonder who had called the town home, he had the records. He produced paper records, the oldest from 1811, 37 years after the founding of the city. The records reflected 184 property owners, one who was Jean Baptiste LeBeau, a gunsmith and my great, great, great, great grandfather. Incredible!

Much of my earlier years focused on where I am going. As I age, I find where I have come from to be equally if not even more interesting.

Go Forth Boldly


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