You Are Who You Are & Nobody Can Take That Away From You
“You Are Who You Are & Nobody Can Take That Away From You.” This factual statement may seem like a no-brainer. You feel like you don’t matter. That all of your education, experience, and hard-work, are all for naught. Sometimes, you feel that your life’s dreams can be snatched from you; even those secret dreams that are buried deep within your soul seem vulnerable.
While I cannot promise you that everything will be ok. I can promise you ARE special. You were put on this Earth, for such a time as this, to be *uniquely you.* Unfortunately, not everyone will like you. What is most important is that you like you! That may be a tall order, when you are a tired mama just wanting your kid to eat his dinner so that you both can go to bed. You look for that surprise card in the mail from a dear friend or an encouraging word on Facebook, just to make it through today. But the letter is not there. Harsh words scream through the computer screen. You NEED a hug, even a cyber hug would feel good right now…
Your Ancestors Would Be Proud to Know You Carry on Their Legacy
My new hobby is “genetic genealogy.” This combining DNA test results with your family tree research to find missing relatives. It is super fascinating. You’ve seen the commercials for Ancestry.com to find those cool shaky leaves that will unlock your family history mystery. Now you can send in your own DNA sample or that of your parent or relative to see what deeper family information will be unveiled in a petri dish. Sometimes the test results are amazing. Many times they just open up MORE questions and the want to take MORE DNA tests. That is where I found myself over six years ago and 10 tests later!
Yet, my quest for knowledge has unlocked some very cool and unknown information on my dad’s paternal family tree, the Ellison-Riley side. It all started when a “5th Cousin” maternal match result was emailed to me from Family Tree DNA. I was hoping this particular female relative could assist me in determining our common ancestor on my mother’s maternal line. This lady who lives on the West Coast was a member of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). You know that very prestigious lineage society whose members have all identified a distant ancestor who either fought in the American Revolutionary War and/or gave aid in the form of monetary assistance, food, clothing, ammunitions, etc. or gave an oath of allegiance to the side of the “American Patriots.” While this relative and I have not yet found the common ancestor, her DAR membership made me wonder if I was eligible to join the DAR. You just never who to whom you might be related! Your ancestors would be thrilled to know that you are here to carry on their legacy. Your historical presence, regardless of how big or small, enables you to create your own legacy! What will be your legacy?
Nearly a Decade of Digging for my Family Tree Roots
After six years of researching my the roots of my maternal family tree, I was getting stumped. One day, however, I noticed a pattern in my research. Someone who fought in the American Civil War was likely to have a grandparent or great-grandparent that fought in the American Revolutionary War…Using this premise, I quickly switched gears from my maternal line to my paternal line. As my second-great-grandfather, Preston Riley, was born in Carsonville, GA, three years after the Civil War ended. Surely, his father or grandfather must have fought in the Civil War which hopefully then could lead me to my Patriot…
After nine months of carrying this hope inside me, I believed that the keys unclocking the truth had been found. Employing a team of seven researchers from across the country, excited about my quest, we worked together, scouring over hundreds of pages of historical documents, deeds, and family trees. By Decemeber of 2016, my official application has been submitted to the DAR. Yesterday, a little bird told me that I might know something about my application by the end of February! Until then, no news IS good news. I will report the outcome as soon as I know the result. If my DAR application is denied, I will be disappointed. Wouldn’t you? But I won’t be devesated, as I know that I have put forth the BEST documention available to me at the time of my application. Either way, I DID MY BEST. I AM WHO I AM AND NOBODY CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME!
A Quotable Quote
“Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favored evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely- make that miraculously- fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, everyone of your forebearers on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from it’s life quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result – eventually, astoundingly, and all to briefly- in you.”
Finding *My* Roots
While I am digging through the piles of historical information on both sides of my family to find new information, I am proud of the infomation that my Mom taught me as a child. My maternal 2nd great-grandfather, Peter G. Morgan, a former slave, and shoemaker, was able to purchase not only his own freedom, but that of his wife too, and later became a prominent elected official and businessman. This 2015 episode of Finding Your Roots is about my cousin, Benjamin Jealous (Democrat and former president of the NAACP) and my maternal GG GF, Peter G. Morgan, (Republican) who was a black man elected to the Virginia Constitutional Convention to bring the state back into the Union after the Civil War AND was also elected to the Virginia House of Delegates representing the City of Peterburg. He was known as “THE INDIAN” [Cherokee]:
Finding *Your* Roots – Dig Deep!
Family history is in my DNA? What’s in yours? Do YOU know the history of your family tree? You may quite surprised at both how much you DO know and how much you really DON’T know about your family. Researching one’s family tree is not for the faint of heart! You may encounter information that is controversial, upsetting and unknown for good reason. (No wonder Grandma never wanted to talk about her brother or the war…) But, NOW is the time to document whatever information and pictures that you have access to today. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. And you would hate to find out that your loved one took precious memories that only they knew, to the grave… Dig deep and keep digging until you uncover those roots and branches that have been lost to history. Take a moment of silence to remember those that have gone on before us. Reflect on their life’s contributions and the path that led to you…
To sum it all up…
Here is my life’s story theme *mashup*, as only poet Robert Frost can convey:
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference…
…The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”