Most national days that are designed to celebrate an activity or group, are just another day to most of us, but for me, and for many other family history buffs, Genealogy Day is different. I’m sure everybody has a day of celebration that hits home to them, but I know of so many people who are dedicated to tracing their family history. I’m sure everyone has different reasons for tracing their history…from adoptees finding their parents, to simply wanting to know which historical figures we are related to, many people are curious. Those of us who have begun this journey, find ourselves losing track of time as were research the proof of relationship between us and our ancestors. We get started, and the addiction sets in. It’s like a good book that we simply can’t put down.
All too often, by the time we think about researching our ancestors, any of our family members who might have any pertinent information are already gone. We find ourselves disgusted that we weren’t interested before that point. Of course, by then it is too late for us, unless someone else took the time to ask the questions, and record the information. That is where the family genealogists come into play. If you are blessed, you have a parent or grandparent that you can ask or who has written it all down for you, so you don’t end up in the sad situation of finding that you are hitting a wall in your research. Those of us who find ourselves in the self-appointed position of being the family historian or family genealogist are not sorry that this is what we do. It is exciting to come across an old picture that we never thought we would find, or a military draft registration card that contains the signature of our ancestor. Those things are like striking it rich in a gold mine.
People are busy, and we just don’t have a lot of time to dig through the past, but every now and then, people who happen to have a bit more time start digging around and sometimes find out the most fascinating facts about where their forefathers came from and what kind of people they were. Most people are a little bit curious, when someone brings the information to their attention, but some simply don’t think they care. I find the latter group to be the most sad. They simply don’t understand that they are missing out…until it’s too late.
Keeping track of one’s family lines has been going on for centuries…hence the wealth of information that is out there, but never has the information been easier to access that it is today. Computers, cell phone apps, digital pictures all make it easier to share what one has with another, without losing the treasure you have. In Western societies, genealogy was especially important to royalty, who used it to decide who was of noble descent and who was not, as well as who had the right to rule which geographical area, but I think everyone wants to kind a link to a royal line. The idea that our grandparents might be royalty is an exciting one…even if our royal family will never know who we are.
Genealogy Day was created in 2013, by Christ Church, United Presbyterian and Methodist in Limerick, Ireland to help celebrate the church’s 200th anniversary. For this day, Christ Church brought together local family history records not only from its own combined churches, but also from the area’s Church of Ireland parishes, including the Religious Society if Friends in Ireland (Quaker) and the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon). The people in attendance could then use the amassed marriage and baptism records dating back to the early 1800s, such as Limerick Methodist Registers and Limerick Presbyterian Registers, to find out about their great-great-grandparents. The idea was so popular that it was repeated for the next two consecutive years and has inspired many people to take a look into their family tree to find out a bit more about where they come from. I think that Genealogy Day is a perfect day to dip your toe in the Genealogical waters, and see what you can find out about your own family. You might be surprised.
Every family has it’s black sheep, and I have recently found out that one of mine is that my 7th cousin 3 times removed is Billy the Kid. Most of the people in my family tree are good people, and many are presidents and even royalty, but there are still a few of them who were…a bit on the wild side. Billy the Kid was one of those. On September 23, 1875, William Henry McCarty was arrested for the first time after stealing a basket of laundry. I can’t imagine why he chose a basket of laundry, but that was his entry into the world of crime. The jails back then weren’t super secure, so Billy the Kid broke out of jail, and roamed the West, eventually earning a reputation as an outlaw and murderer and a rap sheet that allegedly included 21 murders.
No one really knows much about William’s birth, other than his name and approximate year of birth…between 1859 and 1861, in Indiana or New York. William’s dad was never in his life, and the family moved around a lot, living in Indiana, Kansas, Colorado and Silver City, New Mexico. His mother died in 1874 and Billy the Kid…who went by a variety of names throughout his life, including Kid Antrim and William Bonney…turned to crime soon afterward. I guess that explains the decision to steal a basket of laundry. There are criminals who start out as good people, and then circumstances in their life force them to do things they might not otherwise do. Then, once they are into it, there is no going back. Billy the Kid became a horse thief in Arizona before returning to New Mexico, where he hooked up with a gang of gunslingers and cattle rustlers involved in the notorious Lincoln County War between a rival rancher and merchant factions in Lincoln County in 1878. It would be this time period that would eventually get him a death sentence.
Billy the Kid wasn’t a big man, but rather had a slender build and prominent crooked front teeth. He loved to sing, and I have to wonder what he might have become had he chosen singing over crime. Nevertheless, after the Lincoln County War, he went on the lam and continued his outlaw’s life, stealing cattle and horses, gambling and killing people. His crimes earned him a bounty on his head and he was eventually captured and indicted for killing a sheriff during the Lincoln County War.
Sentenced to hang for his crime, Billy the Kid managed to escape from jail one more time, murdering two deputies in the process. His freedom was short lived, however, as Sheriff Pat Garrett caught up with him at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, on July 14, 1881, and fatally shot him. Billy’s legend grew following his short life and violent death. Today he is a famous symbol of the Old West, along with such men as Kit Carson, Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok, Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, and like many criminals of the past, his story has been romanticized in numerous films, books, TV shows and songs. Each year, tourists visit the town of Fort Sumner, located about 160 miles southeast of Albuquerque, to see the Billy the Kid Museum and gravesite.
In times past…long before the Cruise Craze occurred, the average person didn’t really travel by ship. Immigrants did, but mostly they spent their entire life’s savings to make the journey to a new country, and often they traveled in the steerage class…without all the amenities of the people in 1st class. As we saw on the movie Titanic, the 1st class passengers were treated like royalty, because they had a lot of money, while the others were kept separate…like they might rub off on the 1st class passengers, or get them dirty or something.
These days, the rich and famous don’t exactly take cruises. If they want to cruise, the get a yacht or they just fly to where they want to go, often in their own plane. If they are on a cruise ship, then they are really traveling incognito, because I have not noticed anyone rich or famous on my two cruises. Mostly I think that the cruise vacation gives the middle class citizen the chance to live like a king for a few days, and forget their problems for a while.
On the cruises I have taken, as well as the ones my family has taken, there are people from all walks of life, sharing this space and the amenities it offers for a little time of respite from their day to day working lives. And how cool is that!! There is no snobbery, and no special place to dine that only the rich can go. Everyone is treated like royalty. Although, unless you get a balcony room, there is one deck you don’t have access to. No great loss, if you ask me.
I find that quite refreshing really. So often, we are placed in classes, whether we like it or not. You can play golf and the club…if you can afford the fees. You can belong to this or that club…again, if you can afford it. And it is true that the people on a cruise ship must be able to afford the cost, but there are ways to keep the cost down and still have an amazing time. It is something you can save up for, and take your own opportunity to live like kings for a little while.
I think everyone should try this type of trip when they can. It gives you an opportunity to let someone else wait on you for a while, and all you do is sit back and enjoy the ride. It is such a great way to de-stress, and don’t we all need that once in a while? I know I do. Give it a try. It’s great to live like kings…even if it’s only temporary.
When my mom first saw my dad, she tells me that her heart skipped a beat, and she thought, “Whew, what a handsome man!” My dad must have had similar thoughts because that began a lifelong marriage. They lived happily ever after. That might sound like the whole story, but it is only the beginning. From the moment they had their first date, my dad treated my mom like a princess. He planned to win her love and then spend the rest of his life loving her and giving her everything he could. That was a dream that would never change.
As the years went by, and their 5 daughters arrived, the love multiplied. Our family was always close…it was planned that way by my parents. When they married, it was forever. Their love would always be put first. They always treated each other like royalty. To them, their spouse was the most important person in the world…and their children a close second. Theirs was a match made in heaven.
I never saw my mom happier than when she was with my dad. Her eyes sparkled and her smile was brighter. Dad had a way of making her feel prettier…a condition that comes from being treated like a princess. And truly when he was around, she glowed. Could love possibly be stronger than that. There is just something about spending your life around a person who has the ability to make you feel better about yourself, that gives life a greater meaning. And my dad had that ability…with all his girls. He made you feel like you could be more, do more…like you were more than you thought.
Whenever any of us had a problem, Dad always had a way of working it out, and that is how he always was. I could see that in his letters to his family during World War II, and he carried that same ability with him throughout his entire life. I suppose it was that ability that always made him seem like a knight in shining armor to my mom. She always knew that Dad would work out any problem they might encounter. Don’t get me wrong, mom was quite capable too, but Dad always had a plan…no matter what the problem.
I have been around many married couples, but none that were ever quite like my parents. Theirs was a love that was unmatched. Sometimes love is like that. They fell in love at first sight and loved forever after that day. How blessed their lives were, and how blessed were the lives of their children and grandchildren.