sharing family history with children

FHforChildren

I remember the moment I went into labor with my first born child. While she was busy signaling (contractions) to me that she was ready for her grand arrival into the world I was quickly grabbing any necessities that had gone astray from my hospital bag. Once done with that I hit the late night road with my mother for the short trip to the hospital. I was excited and nervous all at once to meet this new little person. What would she be like? Joyful? Comedic? Smart? Sporty? Who would she look more like? Me or my husband? My mother and I stopped en-route to the hospital to pick up a pack of gum. Like any other meeting with a new person I suppose I wanted to have minty fresh breath when meeting my baby. Would she remember that her mama had minty fresh breath when they placed her in my arms for the first time?

If she ever comes back to read this blog I suppose she will definitely know that fresh breath was of great importance to me at that time. Maybe we’ll talk about this in the future if she ever asks for the story of her birth. Then she won’t need to refer to this blog.

Anyhow, this brings me to my main point of this particular post: Why should anyone share family history with children? Are the smallest of details of any benefit to children? What kinds of family stories should you share? When is the best time to share family history?
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the journey of my dna journey

A few months ago I read Alondra Nelson’s book titled The Social Life of DNA Race, Reparations and Reconciliation After the Genome. This post is inspired by that read. After I’d finished I realized that I had never quite spelled out the terms and pitfalls of my personal DNA quest and how I was going about it. And of course Nelson’s work presented ideas I’d never really considered, such as proving a genetic connection to Africa as a means of potentially receiving monetary reparations. If any restitution is to be made for what has occurred to my ancestors I have decided it will and must first come from me.

Tajikistan 2006
Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan – 2006

Eleven years ago – that is when my interest in DNA and genetic genealogy began. Only 24 years of age then, I had been traveling within Tajikistan for roughly three weeks. I first explored the capital city of Dushanbe as a member of a Habitat for Humanity International Global Village team. Afterwards I took off to an even more far-flung corner of the country in the Gorno-Badakhshan region to check out the Pamirs and Wakhan Valley. Undoubtedly, my travels there remain steady in my top 3 favorite journeys of all time. There are many reasons and one of them is due to a very chance encounter with the group that would accelerate my desire to participate in DNA testing.

I had been wandering the bus station with my then guide, Theodore Kaye, (now an amazing editorial and corporate photographer) looking for a safe, not too tightly packed, vehicle that could get me back into Dushanbe safely. The ride back from Khorogh would be a journey of 16 hours along a very jagged path down the mountains. Selecting a vehicle that appeared to have my ultimate safety at heart was paramount. Then it happened. My face turned and caught sight of a foreigner like myself. We made eye-contact and proceeded with introductions, answering the why on Earth are you here questions and so forth. As it turned out the friendly foreigner, David Evans, a photographer for National Geographic, had been traveling in country with Dr. Spencer Wells’ team from the National Geographic Genographic project. They had just wrapped up collecting DNA samples from natives of the region. Teo asked them if it would be alright if I hitched a ride with them back to Dushanbe and they agreed.

From that point onward it was full-throttle drinking of the DNA juice that would lead me to take my very first DNA test. To be clear, the Nat Geo gang explained the Genographic project for sometime during our ride back to the capitol and I was in awe. Having never been very inclined towards science I was also a bit intimidated by Dr. Spencer Wells, but everyone was so down to Earth and the pitch they made as to why anyone and everyone should participate reeled me right on in.

Naturally, the first test I took when I returned home in late 2006 was the Genographic test.
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The Society of the Cincinnati

PBJr_2017 (2)I am pleased to announce with great pleasure that my brother, Peter Barnes, has been accepted into the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati. Yes, it appears the lineage society bug has taken my family and this one in particular is rather noteworthy.

From the society website:

Established in 1783, as the American War for Independence drew to a close, the Society of the Cincinnati is the oldest private patriotic organization in the United States. The Society is also our nation’s first hereditary organization. The founders of the Society assigned their descendants the task of preserving the memory of the patriotic sacrifices that made American liberty a reality.

In regards to the long list of lineage societies available for interested participants to join this one is indeed prestigious. And due to the strict qualifications required of the patriot from which one descends it is not easy for many to up and join. (Yes, this is me tooting the horn of our patriot ancestor, Major James Collins.) First and foremost patriots had to be officers during the war, but you couldn’t just be an officer – you had to serve a minimum of three years as an officer during the war. Because war of any sort is terrible not all officers made it three years, which is why eligibility is also extended to descendants of those who were killed or disabled, was serving at the end of the war in 1783, or was ‘deranged’.

Where did our 6th great-grandfather, Major James Collins fit into those eligibility requirements? Oh, he was deranged. This terms tickles me and I’ll explain it to you as it was explained to me from the Senior Society Secretary of the Massachusetts constituency:

As you likely know he (James Collins) entered the fray as a Major of Col. Moses Little’s Massachusetts Regiment on the 19th of May 1775. In January of 1776 this became the 12th Continental Regiment (still under Little) and he remained as Major. This was one of the Regiments that Washington begged to remain with him after Trenton -which they did for about 4-5 weeks. At that point the 12th was disbanded.

James returned home and immediately joined the Massachusetts Militia as a General. He may also have briefly commanded a Privateer called the Cumberland out of Boston.

The fact that his unit was disbanded rather than merged with other units, and that he continued to be involved in the war is a strong indication that he may have been deranged. That was a lovely 18th century word that meant, ‘we have no one for you to command so please keep your sword polished and we will call if we need you.

Lovely indeed. Seriously, I can’t speak for my brother on this, but this whole lineage society business has fostered a new appreciation for American history. I have always been a lover of history, geography and social studies, but this really has me going back and reexamining what I learned long ago in high school. I’ve learned so much from those who have assisted in the application processes and I can’t thank them enough. How I wish I had known all of these things when I was younger.

So what was I saying… Oh yes, many congratulations to my brother, Peter Barnes! A round of sound please.

2017 MLK Day of Service – Youth Genealogy Program

C.A.R. Circle

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Indeed.

On Monday, January 16, 2017 the ChiChi-Okobee Society Children of the American Revolution hosted a half-day youth genealogy program at the Children’s Garden and Art Center. This program was made possible by a State College of Florida MLK Day of Service grant which I applied for on behalf of the Sarasota area C.A.R.

mlk2005_nolineHow about I quickly bring things up to speed before dishing out the details on the program. Shortly after joining the DAR last June I decided to to assist on the C.A.R. committee. It seemed like a common sense kind of idea considering I have two small children who I am working on getting into the C.A.R. as well. After a few months time one of my fellow Daughters shared with me a couple of grant opportunities that might be of interest. In October I applied for the MLK Day of Service grant. Just a few days before Thanksgiving I heard that my application for funding had been approved.

From that point forward until the day of the program, I worked tirelessly to develop and bring a youth based genealogy event to my community. And that in a nutshell was how the event came about and one of the many, many reasons I’ve been absent here.

Back to the C.A.R. For those who are not familiar:

C.A.R. is the nation’s oldest, largest patriotic youth organization offering membership to anyone under the ages of 21 who is lineally descended from someone who provided military or civil service or gave material aid or support to the cause of independence during the American Revolution.

C.A.R was chartered by the United States Congress in 1895, and is organized for the training of the young people in true patriotism and love of country.

Although the C.A.R. is only open to children with direct ancestral ties to the Revolution the Youth Genealogy Program was framed to assist children of any background with discovering tools and resources they may not have been previously aware of. Our C.A.R. society recognizes that no matter where your ancestry takes you knowing your lineage is important.
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fletchers of perquimans county, north carolina

Working Fletcher family DNA tree based off my research. Research is ongoing.

Working Fletcher family DNA tree based off my research. Research is ongoing.


If you have found your way to this blog and you have connections to the Fletcher family that once lived in Perquimans County, North Carolina I hope that you’ll stick around because I’m pretty sure we’re cousins. The only problem is I can’t quite tell you how or who connects us, but I will do my best to pave the way. A good many DNA clues have lead me to this hypothesis and in order to explain I’m going to have to start from the beginning.
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