Discovering the Ancestral Web
At the end of last year, my mother and I traveled to Virginia to visit Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. In the past Mom and I have visited Spain, Greece, Mexico, Costa Rica and countless places in the United States together. She loves to experience new cultures and I am happy to be her travel companion. As she and I age (I am turning 50 in a few weeks) these adventures become more important.
I planned this trip, not realizing the real significance of it or where it would eventually take me, other than spending time once again traveling with my Mom. Mom loves anything presidential especially the era of the American Revolution.
Upon arriving, although having a knowing that our relatives were from Virginia, we soon realized after internet searches and reviewing historical books that my Mom’s family was closely associated with Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the development of the United States.
We visited Monticello as intended but our trip led us to find the home and land of our ancestral grandfather, Dr. Thomas Walker, who cared for Thomas Jefferson after his father died. He also owned land near Monticello, led expeditions to the wilds of Kentucky and Tennessee, founded Charlottesville, VA and worked closely with President Washington, his wife’s cousin and Thomas Jefferson as an adviser.
Coming home after this trip opened my interest in further exploring my ancestry, on both sides of my family. Little known details of my father’s family prompted me to inquire about our heritage through an on-line website. Researching all aspects and angles of my background was interesting and amazing. Families from England came as early as the 1600’s. German relatives crossed the ocean two centuries later in the 1800’s. The amount of dates and names to discover are endless. Yet, it is the culmination of all these names along with the choices and actions made that have brought me to this place in my life today.
As I reflect on my fifty years, I notice many of my past relatives never made it to 50, there life was difficult and hard, yet they trudged forward. It also makes me contemplate how I am an amalgamation or union of them all, a conglomeration of their thoughts, ideas and actions all rolled together. This leads me to consider my own Self and how it will affect those coming after me.
We often hear we are all connected. I believe this, but I normally think of it in current day terms. Yes, we are all connected and related past, present and future. Our thoughts of today affect the lives of those forthcoming. Together, like a spider’s web or a matrix reaching back and beyond this lifetime, we are all inter-twined, never separate.
When you are feeling alone call upon your relatives, those in the past or the ones coming in the future for support and guidance. They understand the struggles you face and can lead you to a brighter future.
In dedication to my ancestors and relatives, past, present and future, “thank you”.
Susan J. McFarland