Friday, April 9, 2010

We're All Related

Since I've been out of the Geneabloggers scene for awhile, I haven't posted about WDYTYA? I hadn't planned to comment, because it's already been adequately discussed. However, one thing kept sticking in my mind that I wanted to be able to put into words. Wouldn't you know, someone far more capable than I did just that.

In this article, Megan Smolenyak writes, "I suspect that one of the main reasons Who Do You Think You Are? resonates with so many is because we see our own families in the stories of the ancestors of Lisa Kudrow, Emmitt Smith and other celebrities."

Exactly! So many of the stories and the soundbites were similar to my own family stories. I could relate to the feelings and emotions because I've felt them myself as I've been on this journey of discovering my ancestors.

When Sarah Jessica Parker finds that her ancestor, John S. Hodge, died during the California Gold Rush, leaving a young family, my thoughts turn to John Worley Hatley who died, unexpectedly, while serving as an Indian Scout in the Texas Rangers. He left behind a young family, including his young son, Grien/Green Thomas Hatley, my great, great grandfather.

When Matthew Broderick says, "It's funny to know things about your parents' parents that maybe your parents didn't know." I think of the scandalous stories of Albert Barnes Cutler Salmon. He left his wife, Sarah, and seven children and ran away with his brother's wife, Daisy Irene. When my mother found ABC on the census record with his wife Sarah, my grandmother said that her grandmother's name was Irene, not Sarah. As far as we know, she never knew the scandal behind who Irene really was.

When Brooke Shields speaks of wanting to like her grandmother, I remember my own great grandmother who abandoned her young child. Like Brooke, these ancestors are from New Jersey and also like Brooke, I've never really cared for my great grandmother, Mabel Blazier. This same great grandmother lost her mother as an infant, and was a servant in someone's home as a child. The more you discover about someone, the more you can understand who they were and the "why" behind some of their actions.

Just as we feel a connection in sharing similar stories, there's something about genealogy that's more than just discovering your own story. It's what makes this Geneablogging community so great. It's sharing your story with others and being able to share in the excitement of their own discoveries.

Mrs. Smolenyak said it best: "Just as many of us love The Office because we can relate, many of us are drawn to Who Do You Think You Are? because we're all related."


  1. You have cited some very good examples of how knowing the story behind an ancestor may help explain their (sometimes not so glorious) behavior. Doing family history has helped (I hope) to make me a bit more forgiving and tolerant.

  2. Yes, yes, yes to Greta's comment.

    This is my first visit to your blog. Thank you for sharing your husband with the citizens of the U.S. I appreciate his service. I'm sorry that you and your family are deprived of his time and attention. I can only imagine - barely begin to imagine - how hard it must be with him away. I hope he'll be on his way home soon.

    Despite how busy your life is, I'm grateful that you keep coming back to blogging. I think you have a great blog!

  3. Yes, Greta! I think so too. It's amazing what all this digging in the past can do for your perspective.

    Nancy, thank you so much! I truly appreciate your support. It is difficult, but we're making it. Thank you for your sweet comments.