I don’t idle well. So as the calling on my life as a midwife has begun to change and slow in its pace, I have turned to other things. Growing up, there was always a huge emphasis on family history. My children have inherited a wealth of rich history going back to the very foundations of America. Between my husband’s family and mine, they are descended from 10% of the families that stepped foot on Plymouth, Massachusetts soil in 1620, having immigrated upon the Mayflower carrying names like Alden, Rogers, Howland, Deane, Hopkins.
Set on the stage of the Revolutionary War and later the Civil War, families intermarried and began to swell in numbers, moving out across the country. 15 generations later, as with all couples, a chance meeting brought my husband and I together bringing back those original four Mayflower families to coalesce into our children’s heritage. These include a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Constitution, two presidents of the United states, and though the blood has been diluted the claim to this heritage has not.
It seems only fitting that I spend free time now working with Find A Grave, a group that has undertaken the massive task of finding the final resting places of multitudes of ancestors on behalf of genealogist and family researchers alike. I wander the cemeteries in search of specific persons or taking random photographs of headstones to add to the burgeoning collections of the found lost! Having been at the task for 1 year 7 months and 10 days I have created 3,550 new memorials, uploaded 11,627 photographs including one famous individual.
Today marks my 300th visited cemetery over that period of time. Most of them are here in the surrounding counties but I have also included cemeteries in Washington, Utah, and Australia. I have clamored over fences, waded through streams, encountered bees and torrents of rain, ducked for cover as lightning and thunder threatened. Veterans of the revolutionary war, Spanish-American war, Indian and Mexican wars, the Civil war, as well as Korea, WWI & WWII, Viet Nam and on as on as we thrash around on this planet unable to refrain from the atrocities of self-destruction. Babies buried freshly born and the rare long-lived pioneer, having seen 106 sunrises and sunsets. This quest has been a remarkable spark to learn more about history. Whether it is stepping amongst the memorial markers at Botany Bay in Australia, or finding the headstone of a slave woman in Corvallis, Oregon, I cannot help but open new chapters in my awareness of those who peopled these surrounds and brought each of us to birth as their descendants.
Australia soon, and off to new adventures in far off cemeteries!