Genealogy and springtime – hope springs eternal in our genealogy!
Ahh yes! Today is Sunday, it’s the Ides of March, and the first day of spring is only 5 days away.
One of my favorite sayings is Alexander Pope’s ‘hope springs eternal’ and nowhere is that more appropriate than in our genealogy work.
No matter what we are up against in our genealogy we are always hopeful for a breakthrough. We are always following our feeling that we will find some elusive hint or tidbit of information that will help us break down some brick wall in our family tree. Genealogists are simply the best kind of optimists I think.
This optimism manifests itself in a wide variety of ways. I can think of a few in my own genealogy work that illustrate this point quite well. For instance:
I recall spending hours in a cold rain walking through a cemetery searching for two grave markers. I knew they were in that cemetery and I was bound and determined to find those markers. I was not about to give up. Many hours later, soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone, I found them. Nowhere near where my memory has ‘told’ me they were, but I found them all the same. There is nothing quite like that feeling when your perseverance pays off.
On another occasion, I spent years looking for an image of my great grandfather, Joseph K. Vicha. I must have peered through my magnifying glass (or my ‘finding glass’ as our grandson more aptly calls it) at close to a thousand photos I came across with large groups of Bohemian men in them thinking he might be there, realizing that I might have been looking right at him since no one in the family knew what he looked like. Then, by chance, I noted an item while doing some unrelated research, which stated there was a Bohemian Lodge in the Knights of Pythias. I lucked out finding a used copy of the book at a bargain price and lo and behold there was my great grandfather looking right at me on one of the pages. I never quit in my search and had I not followed up on that tiny clue, I might still be looking for an image of him today.
I also have been blessed with what I call ‘generational amnesia’ in my genealogy work. Generations back there was evidently quite a fissure in the Czech branches of our family tree, but being a genealogical optimist I worked on finding those ‘lost’ cousins and by golly not only did I find them, but we connected, they are now helping greatly with our family history work, and that fissure of long ago has been repaired – particularly since no one alive today really knew what the original issue was that fractured the family. Well, actually I know, but I am keeping that under wraps so as not to tempt the fates. It is the Ides after all.
There are still many missing pieces in our family tree, but not a one of us has come close to giving up our searching!
We know, after all, that ‘hope springs eternal’ especially in genealogists!