Today’s Tip: Be aware that as a genealogist/family historian you may be in postion to be a Fence Mender!
When I was just a young boy, one of the highlights of my year would be when we would leave the city for a visit to my Aunt Lil’s farm in Western Ohio. Once there, Aunt Lil would always ask me to walk the fence lines of her farm. She would give me some tools and a role of wire and tell me ‘if you find a single break, you stop and mend that fence for me’. The first time out, I asked ‘how will I know if it is your fence or the neighbors?’ She said, ‘pay that no mind. If the fence needs mending, you mend the fence!’ So off I would go for the day, mending whatever fence might need it.
Now as a genealogist, I find myself, and I dare say you might find yourself, in a postion to mend a fence or two. Perhaps one of your own. Maybe an in-law. Could be a cousin, Aunt or Uncle.
I have come across what I will call ‘family divides’ while doing my work. Old hurts. Old prejudices. Old splits in whole branches of the family.
Given what I have been blessed to learn of the larger family history and background, I was able to mend several of these fences that had been damaged in some cases generations before.
In another, closer to home case, I was able to at least shed some light on a division that exists and while the division is still there, I believe that at least the parties involved understand the background and people involved better so that sometime in the future this divide might yet be crossed.
I am not saying we can be successful all the time. I am not saying we can be successful even once. We may never, ever be — but with our knowledge of family, and our love of our work, we certainly can try and we can certainly shed light.
So remember when you are out there on your ‘family farm’ to pay attention to the fences and if you find one that needs some mending, don’t be afraid to stop, take out your tools, and give it a go. With our knowledge and love of family and family history, we each may have the exact tools to do the job at hand — on our fence or our neighbor’s!
You might just make someone’s life just a little bit better.
And win, lose, or draw, I bet you, like me, will feel better just from trying.
Onward To Our Past,