Sherry Wilson's Gene Pool
INTRODUCTIONS ARE NOW IN ORDER:
My maiden name adorns this site. At the time of the launching on this outpost
of the Internet (July, 2005) I have managed to survive and celebrate a phenomenal,
three-score birthdays. (Three score sounds a little less ancient than 60 years!)
The surviving was not as easy as the celebrating, by far.
My life is a potpourri of experiences which shaped my perspective
on my favorite hobby and avocation
namely, GENEALOGY. My survival has
included a recovery from breast cancer (twenty-two years, so far); from alcoholism
(thirty-three years); from nicotine addiction (thirty-one years); and a variety
of bumps, bruises and broken bones along the way. A person can develop a lot
of tolerance for other folks' character defects while examining their own
shortcomings. This is why I have a slightly different perspective on my ancestors
and the study of genealogy as a whole.
I studied psychology in a vain attempt to discover why our
family was all screwed up. I pursued genealogy for basically the same reason.
At least now I know that I'm not the only "black sheep" in the family
that I came by it honestly.
Genealogy is a great hobby, and it appears to be contagious
as well. One can spend endless hours communing with the dead while totally
tuning out the living
an especially, nice hobby if one has poor, interpersonal
skills and five ex-husbands for proof.
There's another aspect to my "take" on genealogy
that is my eclectic belief system. Unlike a lot of folks, I don't have "A" religion. I have morphed several into my own viewpoint (and I don't plan to
start my own cult anytime soon). I just don't believe in limiting myself to
one view on the subject of the Universe or a Higher Power. For anyone who
cares, this is what I do believe:
That we are all related, "Mitaku Yeoyasin",
to other human beings and to the earth, and
That we reincarnate into many lifetimes in order to have
the opportunity to learn from our past(s) and to improve our relationships
with all who share this planet (two-leggeds, four-leggeds, winged, crawling,
slithering, and swimming creatures AND to all that these creatures breathe,
swim through, crawl, fly or slither over).
The challenge to genealogy addicts is to view all of their
ancestors with tolerance and forgiveness. "Lions and tigers and bears,
OH MY!" Or in my family's case, the phrase would be "Soldiers and
statesmen and ministers, OH MY!"
Some of the soldiers in my tree defended their families from
hostile natives (remember to keep perspective for a moment). They honestly
believed that they were doing the right thing. I have several ancestors who
can claim that they have defended this country back to a time when it was
just a bunch of colonies. I also have a second cousin who is a lovely, Native
American woman. Try telling her that we did the right thing for the right
reason. And the irony is that she and I share many of these same ancestors.
Our ancestors came here to start a new life
of them desiring religious freedom. The Native Americans knew that we were
coming long before we left the other shore. And they knew that their lives
would never be the same after we arrived.
Our "approved" history books are written from one
perspective, which was that of the gallant pioneers who fought valiantly to
safeguard their homesteads and protect their families...or, were these ancestors, the imperialist
Yankees who rationalized and justified their incursions into a land without
invitation and with a dismissive attitude toward the aborigines there. As
you see now, it's a matter of perspective.
In climbing my tree I have discovered highly-educated Scottish
ministers and statesmen who owned plantations and who presumed to "own" other human beings for the sole purpose of increasing their property and wealth.
They believed that they were entitled to do this. I am honestly ashamed of
some of my ancestors' actions and beliefs. Unfortunately I wasn't the one
to inherit their property and wealth. All that I received was a conscience
and a voice.
To the novice genealogist or anyone attempting to record and
understand their family line, the rocks that we turn over in our examination
of the past, may reveal some rather unsettling facts.
Both revulsion and pride have to be tossed aside. One can't
be proud of an ancestor who, from one perspective, was a great pioneer and
patriot; and from another perspective, slaughtered, demeaned and cheated another
race of human beings. It is necessary to maintain a purely scientific and
impartial attitude toward genealogy and to its subjects. We are historians.
We let others interpret the facts (this is difficult to remember). Please
don't forget the old adage about not shooting the messenger.
My ancestors help me out from time to time. They look over
my shoulder as I squint through databases and census reports. They steer me
toward that certain "rock" or record. And when I visit their cemeteries,
they walk by my side. I weep at the broken tombstones and they remind me that
they don't really live there. They've taught me a great deal about life and
perseverance. Many of them have changed their attitudes about what they did
or what they accomplished while living. They invite me to move on now.
I am among the few fortunate (?) genealogists who have been
able to trace several lines of ancestors back through several centuries. As
I gradually absorbed the information, I became aggrieved at the multitude
of ancestors who fought to the death for their beliefs, while only a generation
or two later, their descendants married the descendants of the so-called enemy!
Yankee and Rebel; Irish and English; English and French; Viking and Celt,
Roman and Greek, Catholic and Huguenot
they all lie in the same ground.
Back to Charlemagne and beyond, I've searched
saints and martyrs, Christians, Crusaders, and practicing Warlocks... I went
looking for answers. And now as I near the end of my search...I realize that
I have forgotten the question. Seriously, folks, if you are in search of ancestors
to claim eligibility into a time-honored lineage society, go for it! You'll
have the opportunity to hang out with like-minded individuals (obsessed with
If you need assistance in your application, I have provided
a handy guide to proving eligibility
in a lineage society on this site. I previously volunteered in my society
to help others find the documents that they needed, as well as teaching Genealogy
at a local school. This avenue seemed the best way for me to pass on what
I have learned to others who are still struggling.
In terms of my present, I have an only child (who's not a child
any longer) and he will soon be leaving for another war-zone to fight a battle
which essentially started before the Crusades. So, this is how I distract
myself from worrying. (Illness prevents me from having more of a life of my own
right now.) I answer mail when I'm able, spend time with my busy grandchildren
when I can be with them, and continue to look for answers with my ancestors,
while we all wait for his return.
P.S. I'm always interested in finding my cousins!
Thanks for visiting Sherry Wilson's Gene Pool
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