We took some time to read to the kids about the focus of our extraction project again the other day. Joseph Hatten Carpenter was a good man, a great example of scholarship, and a great model of how consistent work can do great things over time. His strength has reached down through two generations of good hard working men--both college professors and great contributors to the community--into my family and into the example and ethics I now set for my children. I'm so grateful that I get to know him through my Grandfather's book. Although my grandfather Alvin (Joseph's son) did no other genealogical work of which I know, he connected me to his father in such a powerful way just by writing about what he knew of his father. I'm so grateful for that. It serves as a reminder of how powerful the little bit of work that we do in genealogy can be for future generations.
As I read it felt like I was reading to them a list of ingredients of things that were in their dna. I felt like I was reading to them about who they are and what they can grow up to be. Ingredients that they get to choose from of course--they are free to choose how they will become. But it was very powerful to me that these good qualities were there, already in their possession, ready to develop more and be improved upon even in this coming generation. I hope they can feel the power they have inside to be strong and capable adults who can make contributions to this world.
That's why I want them to know their family history. I want them to be confident and to strike out into the world with a sense of purpose and faith in their abilities. And I want them to be grounded in an understanding of why and how things at times didn't go the best way in our family. I want them to go forth into the world with that broad perspective that family history brings--that good choices can have long term affects on your life and on lives to come. I hope that as they come to know well the goodness in our family tree they will have the deep roots to branch out and become successful adults. To have them grow up with purpose and substance would be my greatest happiness in life and I'm going to put every tool at my disposal to use toward that direction--including family history.