“Grampa, why do you like old, dead people?”

Just last week, my 5 year old granddaughter asked me “why I like old, dead people?”

I explained that knowing who you are through the study of genealogy gives a person a true sense of what to do with his or her life.

I explained that I never knew who I was until a few months ago and my life decisions would have changed greatly had I known my family history.

She is too young to fully understand the implications of knowing who she is as she grows into adolescence, teen years and adulthood and how her decisions in tough times will be influenced by the person she knows she is.

Knowing that you are the child of a patriot makes your patriotism stronger.

Knowing that your ancestors were respectful of themselves will help make you respectful of yourself.

Knowing that your bloodline is full of people who give of themselves, will help to make you a generous person. Knowing your ancestors were doctors, lawyers, writers and people of honor may influence you to become a doctor, lawyer, writer and a person of honor.

My grand-daughter doesn’t know yet that she is the 6th great-grand daughter of Revolutionary War veterans Swift Woodworth (Continental Line) and Jonathan Rathbun who wrote an article on his experiences at that time as a soldier and citizen.

She doesn’t know yet that she is the 4th great-grand niece of Major Henry Reed Rathbone, the soldier who was invited by Abraham Lincoln to attend the fateful play at Ford’s theater. Her uncle tried to subdue John Wilkes Booth and was stabbed just before Booth jumped over the railing.

She doesn’t know yet that she is the 3rd great-grand niece of Girden Clark Rathbun, a soldier in the 8th Michigan Infantry who died in the ill fated charge at the Battle of Secessionville at James Island, South Carolina early in the Civil War.

She doesn’t know yet that she is the 4th great-granddaughter of Ebenezer Rathbone who died while serving in the 13th Michigan Infantry in Nashville and is buried in the National Cemetery there.

She doesn’t know yet that her 4th great-grand mother Lucy lost her son, her husband, and the family farm because of these sacrifices and is buried in an unmarked grave in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

She doesn’t know yet that she is the 3rd great grand-daughter of Edward Cole who also served in the 13th Michigan Infantry.

She doesn’t know yet that she had an aunt who was tried and acquitted at the Salem witch trials.

If you start looking, you will find many noble and special people in your past and this knowledge could change your life as well as your children, and their children’s lives.

The best place to start is with a 14 day free trial at ancestry.com. It is where I started and I have only followed one of the four immediate bloodlines in my family.

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