On the Trail...
December 03, 2012
One of my favorite hobbies is genealogy. I suppose it is because it is the personal side of history. In school we learned the basics of history, from World to American. When it comes to genealogy, history becomes personal. When you are starting, of course, you begin with your closest relatives. This is fairly easy and pretty close to your own history experience. Most stories you have heard from relatives have happened recently enough that you can correlate them with the recent history that you learn in school. Reminiscing about the gas prices, price of bread, or “Do you remember Twinkies?”. Then there is the candy, soda, or other simple products that we all take for granted. Things, people, and places, everything changes over time.
Genealogy is also about solving mysteries. Most families have some sort of mysterious thing that they have to spend extra time researching until finally the question of, "Whatever happened to Grandpa's Uncle “Red”?” Or like my mystery, "Is George Shannon really my Great-Great-Great Uncle like Grandma said?"
My mystery started with my Aunt Norma. She has worked on our family history forever. At least that is how it seems to me! She graduated from William Jewell with her daughter back before I think anyone had ever heard of a woman going back to school and getting her degree. I have always held her in high regard. She was a teacher and an avid library user. She began her investigations into our family before I even realized how much I cared about history or the history of our family. One of our family lines was found to be connected to the Shannon line. Now, you may ask, "Ok. So what?" Well, George Shannon was the youngest of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and became known for getting lost. One of the things that made this line so hard to investigate was the fact that there were quite a few Shannon’s, and a lot of them came from Ireland in the 1700s. My Aunt had worked very diligently on this line and tried to figure out how we were linked. She got very close. She had been told that Sarah Shannon was a sister of George Shannon, and that she had married our Mclain ancestor. This would make George Shannon an uncle of her children and in turn one of our Great-Great….This can go on forever! In the midst of all of this, the proof was not there. She had so many lines to investigate and so many things to do in "real-time" that she could not get any further. This is where I come in. I love history and mystery and family!!! What a coincidence, I work at an MCPL branch! THE best library system for a mystery such as this!!! And guess what? The mystery has been solved! George never had a sister named Sarah. BUT, he did have a cousin Sarah Shannon that married our ancestor John Mclain. So, no he is not our uncle in any way, but he IS a cousin. Please don’t ask me to try and tell you how many a cousins removed or not. I still have not figured out any of that. It kind of gives me a bit of a headache.
Not every person is interested in genealogy or history. But for those who are, let me tell you, if you start trying to solve a family history mystery, you will find yourself immersed in so many different facets of history that you will begin to become one of those people that spout out, "Hey, did you know that on the Lewis and Clark Trail….?" I think that that is a small price to pay. After all, this can only make you a more interesting person, right?
North Oak Branch