Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why Family History?

Family history is more than genealogy. Genealogy concentrates on names, dates, places, and blood relationships. Family History concentrates, not only on names, dates, places, and relationships, but tries to answer questions such as -- What were their lives like? Were they short or tall, dark haired and brown eyed or blonde and blue eyed? I know that my ancestor John Slafter came from Wales in the late 1600s. He wasn't a tall man. I don't know about his coloring, but I can guess he was fairly light haired and maybe blue eyed. I also know he had a presence about him, because someone told a story to his descendent, Rev. Edmund F. Slafter. Edmund Slafter wrote a family history about John Slafter and his descendants. In his book he wrote:

"On one occasion, at least, he is reputed to have made proof both of his personal courage and physicl strength. During his abode in Massachusetts, the forests were infested with Indians, who made frequent incursions upon the English settlements, often carrying terror and death to the cottages of the emigrants. Returning on one occasion after a brief absence, he found his home invaded by two athletic savages, whose insolent threats and gestures had put his whole household in fear of instant death. Assuming the authority which belongs to the lord of the castle, they were at once ordered to leave. Obedience to this command was haughtily refused. Fastening his eye upon the leader, the second injunction was followed, with quickness almost of lightning, by a blow from his clenched hand, put forth with all the energy of his powerful frame, which laid the savage prostrate at his feet. The other, awed by this lesson, showed only signs of fear, and with humble promises on the part of both they were permitted to depart, and never afterward ventured to repeat their visit."

The story may have grown with the retelling, but doesn't that paint a picture of a man who is secure in who he is? I can just see my ancestor as he protects his home and family.

There are many more things I know about my ancestors because Edmund wrote the stories and facts in true family history style. The first time I looked through the book I knew this was how I wanted to write about my family.

This is why I do family history in addition to genealogy.

Dale L. Edwards

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