On this pleasant day off from work I went to see my aunt and uncle who live a short walk away during the winter. Auntie Irene is my father’s sister and has always been one of my favorites along with her whole family – Uncle Bob, cousins Mark, Robin and Todd. They would visit regularly when I was growing up. Their summer vacation was usually spent in Hayward at Grandma’s house and the Round Lake beach. I did a lot of water skiing behind Uncle Bob’s boat, although he loved to scare me by pulling me faster than I wanted to go and heading for the choppiest part of the water to see if I’d fall.
So we were talking and looking at some pictures, one of which was of a big rock in California with a plaque on it memorializing Jedediah Smith. My cousin Todd is posing by the rock. Turns out Jed is one of our Smith ancestors and his claim to fame is the discovery of a route west to California prior to Lewis and Clarke. Somehow L and C got credit but evidently books have been written since acknowledging Jedediah Smith with an earlier route. I have been aware of well known ancestors on my mother’s side of the family, the Boones, but this is the first I’ve known that anyone has traced the Smiths back to someone like this. So now I need to find the books and find out what is known about Jedediah. Auntie Irene says he died young, killed by hostile Indians.
Geneology also shows that we Smiths are related to a family named Bunker. They owned the land on which the battle of Bunker Hill was fought. When you think how hard it is today to make some kind of mark on the world that is remembered at all, it is kind of special to have a family history of memorable characters. We should know about these people. I think it would give us a sense of who we are, who we could be to know who we came from.
Last year for his birthday I had framed for Dennis the roster showing his ancestor Abraham Starr as a soldier in the Civil War. It gives information about the whole company, the battles that they participated in, shows that he was twice wounded and honorably discharged. It has colorful pictures on it and, unfortunately, numerous holes that the mice and moths have made in the paper over the years. Nevertheless an interesting piece of history – and now preserved behind special glass on acid free paper for future generations should they be interested.
I’m in the stage of life where I have occasions to listen to the stories of the generation ahead of me and wish that they were recorded. I can only remember bits and pieces of what I hear. And I wonder what I will have to tell when I’m the oldest generation alive. I spend so much time thinking about mundane things concerning the here and now – it actually feels eerie to think about people much like me who lived and have been gone for hundreds of years who are responsible for my being alive. There are so many stories out there that have never been told…
All for today… back to the here and now.