Archive for June, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – If I Knew Then What I Know Now…

by Sherry Stocking Kline
06 June 2011

It’s a couple of days past Randy Seaver’s June 4th Saturday night challenge, but this challenge really resonated with me!  If only I could turn back the clock or jump into a time machine and re-do a few things!

Greetings, genea-philes. it’s SATURDAY NIGHT – time for more GENEALOGY FUN!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  On GeneaBloggers Radio last night (www.blogtalkradio.com/geneabloggers/) the discussion turned to regrets that we all have about our genealogy and family history experiences.  Someone said “If I knew then, what I know now, I would have…” I thought that it would make a good SNGF topic, and it may be a general topic on a future GeneaBloggers Radio show.

2)  Tell us about your “If I knew then what I know now, I would have…” regret in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook status or note.

High on my list of wish I could re-do is the opportunity to document my sources better from the very beginning, so if you are in the same boat, check out Randy Seaver’s June 4th Saturday Night Genealogy Challenge at www.geneamusings.com!  When I first started, I had so few family ‘lines’ going, and I really, truly believed I would remember where each piece of information came from.  And, frankly, I just wasn’t thinking.

But it isn’t the citations and sources I most wish I could re-do.  It’s the missed opportunities to ask the people who would (or might) actually KNOW the answers to questions that I now want to ask them.  Oh, if only.

1.  I wasn’t into genealogy when I was eight years old (that’s how old I was when my Grandmother Jones died), but if I could ask her now, I would ask her what she knew about her father-in-law’s father (he’s a huge Jones brick wall!).  Did she know his name?  Did he even know his own father’s name?  What was herding cattle all day on horseback in Nebraska like when you were barely old enough to attend school?  How scared were you when the Indians stopped by your home to get food?  Did they ever come back?  Which one of the two young ladies in the neat photo you left behind is your niece, and which is her friend?

2.  And oh, if only I could hear my Grandmother Stocking re-tell her stories of my father’s childhood?  Why didn’t I write them down?  I was only ten, eleven, or maybe twelve, but how I wish I had taken the time to write them down.  Now, it is only bits and pieces that I remember.  I know the horses spooked, and my dad got hurt.  His teeth poked a pretty good hole in his lip.  But what spooked the horses?  I don’t remember.  And if only I could ask her where the farm was where she grew up in Illinois?  What was it like? What schools did she attend?  Now, I will spend hours, and days, and still never have all the answers.  And the one question I really wanted to know when I was in grade school, who was our Native American ancestor?  What was his/her name?  Were they actually Cherokee?  Where did they live/come from?

3.  And why didn’t I think to ask my Great-Aunt Dr. M. Ethel McGinnis more questions about her fascinating life as a teacher, professor, and gifted student?  And her life with my grandmother Stocking when they were children? 

I have many more ‘if only’s'  but they all involve asking my much older relatives questions that I wasn’t interested in knowing the answers to for many, many more years.   

If.  Only.

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