Friday, November 19, 2010

Genealogy teaches rural towns as well as families

Julie Ardery of the Daily Yonder studies a special kind of rural resident who studies the past. Genealogists are committed to not only saving family histories, but also to detailing the history of their communities. (Bill Bishop photo: Family scrapbook of Lucille Skarpa Rohan)

In Fayette County, Texas, a cluster of families share a Czechoslovakian heritage that is being slowly uncovered by T.J. Slansky. In Middlesboro, Ky., Marsha Bratton is piecing together the history of the Cumberland Gap, "where many pioneers (including Daniel Boone) ventured through the Appalachian Mountains." Tina Martinson Ordone, now living in Rayne, Louisiana, has created a world-class genealogical website for Stephentown, New York, where five generations of her mother’s family lived, writes Ardery.

Ordone said, "Genealogical research tends to bring small communities together, in that the discovery of mutual ties will bond people." She said that the Stephentown Historical Society has saved an abandoned Methodist Episcopal church (c. 1870), which now holds its library, and has restored several old cemeteries in the region. Marsha Bratton, of Middlesboro, believes genealogy brings history to life for children. She advises parents, "If you know that your great-great-great grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, tell your children that." As Ardery adds, "Without rural genealogy expertise and local centers for its dissemination,  those 'family connections' will likely become more and more tenuous as time passes." (Read more)

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