Volume 3, Number 2
[Organizing Registrar of Taneycomo Chapter NSDAR Forsyth, Missouri, and First State Chairman of Lineage Research Committee for the State of Missouri.]
"Digging up" ancestors and learning more about them has always been my hobby, and from the time I researched my own family to join the DeWalt Mechlin Chapter of Beverly Hills, Chicago, Ill, over 25 years ago, the "bug" has really been biting me. Genealogy is, to my way of thinking, one of the most fascinating hobbies one can have, and, in addition, it is a worthwhile one too, uncovering history for those who follow you. I have a lion by the tail and cannot let go!!!!!
Miss Frances McConkey of Forsyth, Missouri, formerly of Abijah Bigelow Chapter NSDAR of Michigan City, Indiana (of which Chapter she became a member in 1927), first approached me with the suggestion that we form a Chapter at Forsyth. I agreed readily, resigning from Rachel Donelson Chapter of Springfield, Missouri, to which Chapter I had transferred my membership from DeWalt Mechlin Chapter. When Miss McConkey suggested that I be the Organizing Registrar, I simply jumped with joy for I love nosing into history and old families. This was in the winter of 1959-1960 and on February 1, 1960, we became a Chapter with the required number of fifteen charter members. However, to get this number took some doing. A number of ladies were already DARs when we approached them and were entirely agreeable to transferring their memberships to our new Chapter, and other ladies wanted to become members but their papers and information had to be worked over and put into proper form for application to the NSDAR. That is where I came in, and how I ate it up! Today we have 54 members, not counting three who resigned and four who have passed away.
In poring over old records, reading old letters written in the shaky hands of souls long gone, I truly felt as if I knew them - knew their sorrows and their joys. I found myself dreaming of them at night, and wondering why Grandpa went west and left Grandma with all those children to "raise"!!! She did a mighty good job of it too, while Grandpa took care of his "itchy foot" to see the far-away frontiers. I looked at pictures and saw the stern features of the religious zealot who would brook no interference with his way of life, and the gentle, placating eyes of his wife who had learned to live with her man, but once in a while the eyes of the wife showed plainly that she would stand for no nonsense and had a mind of her own. What a matriach she was- ruling over a large family of children and grandchildren!
Many hours did I spend in libraries, sorting old records, jotting down each little item that would help prove the lineage, and how I rejoiced when at long last we found the "link" that forged the chain together truly.
So, all these years I have fostered the thought that we should do honor to our ancestors. Were they not the ones on whose records we joined the NSDAR? Were they not the ones who helped the brave colonists found this country, and did they not endure hardships almost beyond our comprehension to gain our liberty? Yes, indeed, they were, and they deserved a day unto themselves so that we could talk about them, praise them, sometimes laugh at them, but above all honor them for their part, however small, however humble and unsung, in our War of the Revolution. I wanted the other members of my Chapter to know MY ancestor, and I wanted them to introduce their own ancestor to the other members. Of course we were proud of them! Why else would we be members of this great Society??? And, in my work as Registrar and Genealogist for my Chapter I had run across so many wonderful stories of human interest concerning the ancestors and their families, and their way of life, that I was always telling about it, so- because of my burning desire to have a day set aside for the express pleasure of doing honor to our ancestors, our Regent, Mrs. Dorothy Vanek, and our Program Chairman, Mrs. Harriet Rinehart, designated April 17th, 1967 as the day for this program of "Meet My Ancestor".
Long before April 17th I had sent a note to each of our members asking her to write up some little item about her ancestor, something of human interest preferably, for I already had the required proof of their service, but what we wanted was something amusing, endearing, even sad, that we could listen to and lose ourselves in the life of that particular ancestor. I helped each member who wanted help, for I knew so much about HER ancestor and his family that I was happy that she would at long last have a chance to tell about him.
The eventful day finally rolled around and I acted as moderator. With my list of members be fore me, we called on the members present alphabetically, asking each member to make a brief talk about her ancestor, including such data as where he was born, where was he during his service, whom did he marry, how many children did he have, where and when did he die, where is he buried, is his grave marked as a Revolutionary soldier, etc. And, in addition to this, she was to please tell us anything she knew, through family
legend, of this illustrious ancestor. We wanted human interest tales as well
as his record in the Revolutionary War.
Well, you have never heard such a gabble of sounds, and such laughter - not 'mean" laughter, but loving laughter as we reviewed their habits, their marriages (sometimes more than two or three), their way of life, their straight-necked religious beliefs (or lack of same), and it was a gala afternoon.
For once at least, our little Taneycomo Chapter had gotten together on a subject dear to our hearts - our ancestry. And, in the pleasure of telling others about it, it became doubly clear to each of us, for sober reflection told us that had it not been for the brave men, and women too, of the Revolution we would not, today, be enjoying the privilege of liberty, the pursuit of happiness in our way, the freedom to worship as we desire, and all the pleasant things of life assured us by the Declaration of Independence and the "shot that was heard around the world".
There is in all of us, I think, a nostalgia for places you have never seen and for people you have never met-it pulls at your heart. Can you explain it - I can't!!!
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