Getting Them Started Early to Appreciate Family History

Part 3 – “Five More Tips” will be posted next week.  Stay tuned!

How many times have I heard adults who are interested in their family’s history say, “My kids couldn’t care less about our family’s history”?  Well, this concern isn’t new.  Nearly 100 years ago, one Mennonite author wrote the following introduction to his book on the history of Lancaster County, PA.  But he ends with a somewhat positive note–there is hope that your children and grandchildren may focus their curiosities historically as they move on through life.  It may not be too late then, but they will likely have missed many opportunities to glean from family members whose memories and stories have died with them.  So, the question is: How can we help children become interested in their family’s history and heritage before they miss those early opportunities to tap the family’s resources that will not be around when they really wish they were?

I encourage you to read the following 1931 paragraphs very thoughtfully.  It’s good stuff.

The Childhood Seed of My Interest in Family History

My grandfather owned a copy of the History of White County (TN), written by Rev. Monroe Seals and published in 1935, after his death. White County was where I was born and grew up and where all of my paternal ancestors lived, going all the way back to Daniel Haston. For a long time when I was young, the book was lying on the coffee table in our house. I suppose my mother had borrowed it to read, although I never recall seeing her pick it up or open it. I occasionally picked the book up and browsed through it looking for Haston names. And, to my pleasant surprise, I found some, several in fact! As well as other family facts, I learned from my parents that my Great Grandfather had been a prominent landowner and farmer, as well as a political leader in the county. I had heard about his lay leadership in the Old Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church, but I never realized he was such an important man in our county in other ways. That piqued my interest, so I picked the book up frequently and read parts of it each time. Before long, I was fairly familiar with the history of our county, and some bits and pieces of my family's history. I even discovered that I was a descendant of David Haston, whom I later learned was the son of a man named "Daniel Haston." Those experiences with that book on our coffee table was the seed that eventually developed into a passion to know much more about my family roots. But, that seed was dormant for 40 years or more before it germinated and began to grow into what it was destined to be.

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