Genealogy is one of the favorite hobbies of older generations, which I can see because it takes a lot of time to dig through and find out where your family came from and all old people have is time.  Ha!  The sad thing is that none of us spend enough time with our older relatives asking them questions about their lives when they were younger, making our own history come alive.  I did spend hours looking through the drawers of photos they kept and ended up with many of them from both sides of the family.  While everyone else was dividing up the furniture, I got the photos!

My mother was sharp until she died and one of the most interesting things that happened was a chance conversation we had about her grandparents.  She spent a lot of time with her grandmother and remembered every tiny detail of the house, what my grandmother wore, what plants were in the yard.  While she talked, she drew a map of the house and the wagon yard my great-grandfather started in Ardmore, Oklahoma, explaining exactly what a wagon yard was since I really didn’t know.  My aunt and uncle had lived in that house when I was a child, so I had a sense of the location.  We went through it again and I taped it this time.  I love listening to that conversation, the only one I have of my mother talking.

Here’s my mother with her brothers and grandmother.  I found this photo in a box I was looking through this week.

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On my father’s side, I have a book about my grandfather’s family written by his younger sister.  It’s a delight reading the story of their family from my great-grandparents through my father.  She told little anecdotal stories and gave me a sense of what their life was like in Uniontown, Kentucky.  I used that book to identify each of the family members in these photos.



I also have a book on the history of the Hamiltons that traces us back to Thomas Hamilton leaving Scotland in the 1700s.  That side was easy since the work was done. is a great source and pretty easy to do.  The only problem with it is that our family trees are never-ending and you could spend all your time on the search.  Not a bad thing on a cold day, I guess. The families branch out in all directions, but you begin to see the trends.  My relatives came west, with a lot of farmers on my mother’s side.  I had a hard time finding out about my mother’s beloved grandmother, but I did finally find out that she was one of 16 children.  The family, over the generations, kept moving west from Alabama and Tennessee to Texas and finally Oklahoma.  Always looking for a better life, I imagine.  My mother’s cousin told me about a great-great who was a “high-stepper,” married often and very selfish and wild.  We have all kinds in our trees.

Sometimes, I’m bored and get into it and dig around the documents you can see, wondering how we ever kept track of people when the census was handwritten and names were spelled differently each time.  But we, as a nation, did keep track and it can be fascinating.  Sometimes, you find a story or another clue and it makes you wonder.  When you have a photo, you really wonder and marvel at the path your ancestors traveled to get you to where you are.  It’s overwhelming how many names you find in those outer branches.

Here’s my great-grandmother in southern Oklahoma.  Hard for me to relate to her life, but I appreciate her.

Grandma Holt 1

Here’s my grandfather I never knew (center of the photo).  He must have been great fun and I’m glad to see a glimpse of him.

Ben West lodge group 2 (2)

Searching for our roots is a way to bring history home.  You look at these people who came before you and try to place them in history.  I see my father with his grandparents and think of my grandkids and me.

Mom & Dad Hamilton with J. C., Ed & Sara

I look at my tree and see that I’m already in the thick of it, with my grandchildren at the front end.  I’m already a piece of their history, placed in the world as I saw it in the decades I’ve been here.  It truly is a never ending Circle of Life.

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