This is a guest post written by my Branching Out series of books editor, Stephanie Pitcher Fishman. The books launch Wednesday!
Where Our Lines Intersect
I come from good stock: Corn and Cotton. One line grew up among the cornfields of Ohio and roaming through the beautiful lands of New England. Another is deeply rooted in the cotton fields growing in red Georgia clay and proud of it. I’ve been blessed to spend half my life in each, and I’m finally starting to feel as though both are home. What seemed so different to me growing up has become nearly the same in my adult years. Yes, there are differences, but they boil down to the same good stuff: once you step foot into either house you are home. I feel the same way when I search the genealogical records of each branch of my family. They may have been on opposite sides of the Mason-Dixon and the Civil War, but they are both mine. And, I’m proud of each.
The study and practice of genealogy is as different to people as my corn line and my cotton line may
appear to those on the outside of my research. Whether you consider yourself a hobbyist or a
professional, or someone caught between the two, genealogy is far more than can be defined by those two designations. Genealogy is built on relationships. It’s a passion of the heart and a longing of the soul to connect to relatives unknown to us. We call them ancestors and descendants, and we place them neatly on their branch of a chart. However, they are much more than that to us. They are family.
Whether we are new to research or seasoned with discoveries we all long to find just one more connection before we quit for the day.
My journey into family history started when I was looking for an activity to do with my cotton Granny. Unknown to me at the time, she was in the beginning stages of dementia. The project that started as a time killer grew into one that created memories that I would soon cherish. It saved names and places that we may have lost with her a few years later. It created in me a desire to know more about our past generations than I did. And, it shaped who I would become nearly two decades later. As genealogists we look at the facts and records, and we take note of the accomplishments of those around us. However, we rarely stop to ask why a person was drawn to their research in the first place. I’m sure if we did we’d find that we all have the same motivations even if our starting and ending points are different. Our community is large and loving, and we need to recognize our similarities rather than our differences just like I did with my lines. Whether hobbyist or professional, if we look closely enough we’ll find that we are all the same. We are all corn and cotton. We just need to find where our paths intersect like my lines did in me.
Stephanie Pitcher Fishman is a freelance writer, editor, and genealogical researcher specializing in Midwestern and Southeastern United States family history, specifically within Ohio and Georgia. Stephanie also writes the Columbus Genealogy column (http://www.examiner.com/genealogy-30-in-columbus/stephanie-fishman) for Examiner.com. You can learn more about her research, writing, and editing services at Corn and Cotton: My Family’s Story (http://www.cornandcotton.com).