Adj Marshall

Posts Tagged ‘genealogy’

Where Do I Begin?

In History on January 2, 2011 at 10:49 pm

History is understanding the relationship between the past and the present. -unknown

Recently, while sailing with a new friend I was asked, ” Tell me your history”. The question, originating from a deeply authentic place of interest, caught me a bit off guard.  My friend noting my silence followed up by saying “For us to be friends I need to know you, and in order to know you, I need to know where you come from”.  As I mulled the question over, I thought to myself Where do I begin? and  How much am I willing to share with this new individual?

In that moment I was given the reigns to define my history, allowed to pick and choose the elements of my past I found most essential in defining who I was. It was refreshing. Often times those with means are given the power to define others history especially if you count yourself among the marginalized. While my past is static and unchangeable my history is ever evolving. With every new life experience, conversation, and interaction I am given the opportunity to redefine my history- the relationship between my past and my present.

Determining what I share about my past is always directly proportional to the sense of comfort I feel with a certain individual in a particular moment.  Determining where to begin however is often times more problematic.  Where does my history begin?  In the hyper individualized western culture I live in, history is often limited to ones own personal existence or possibly that of themselves and their parents. This concept made me question the relevance of ancestors  in our own personal history and the ways in which our individual history becomes a part of the larger fabric of a families’ history.

To determine my ancestors’ relevance, I had to first  determine who my ancestors were. With only one living parent and grandparent, my access to information was limited. This brought me back to For over a year I have been leisurely imputing information into a free ancestry account with no agenda or purpose other than to create a record.

Using the public library’s subscription to Ancestry I was able to access records my free home account could not. Each time a family member is added to your tree Ancestry informs you of records that may match your ancestors including, census records, military records, church records, community records and much more.

With the assistance of the data base and some prior research I was able to find records for:

Nellie Worthley my Fathers Grandmother

Nellie Worthley Age 5 1930 Census


Nellie O’Mahoney my Mothers Great Grandmother

Nellie O'Mahoney Age 10 Months 1910 Census

I also found the WWII Enlistment Record for my Fathers Father Charles Marshall

Charles Marshall WWII Enlistment

And a record of Mothers Grandfather  and Great Grandfather Floyd and William Kelly as boarders with the Mac Farlane family.

William and Floyd Kelly as Boarders 1930 Census

Each document I stumbled upon gave me more insight to my families past.

On my mothers side I learned that my Great Grandfather was born in Canada emigrating to the United states in 1909 and that my great great great grandparents were the generation to emigrate from Ireland.

On my fathers side I learned that my great grandmother was 108 upon her death and her parent my great great grandmother and father were married at 30 and 33 a bit late for their time period and unconventional as my great great grandmother was almost 4 years older than her husband.

So these were my ancestors… the generations that came before me. When I began my research I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but I know what I found will change the intersection of my past and present. Learning about our past allows for us to grow in our understanding of connections to others  and the world around us. This growth allows room for positive change to take place.

My research has changed the way I view community. I no longer see myself as an individual that exists in the present alone, but as part of a larger community that extends back generations into the past and extends forward generations into the future*. Communal family history is cyclical and I live somewhere along its continuum.

*That is of course if we don’t destroy it by then.

Websites of Interest:

Ancestry Website

Providence Public Library Subscriptions

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