A Spiritual Past in the Present
Genealogy is a search for your spiritual past. Standing in the present, someone guides you to a moment when you did not exist physically. Gathering evidence of those who prepared a path for your entry into the world sheds light onto who you have become.
Why do certain childhood memories remain strong while others fade? Why do certain smells remind you of elders? Why are you the oddity in the mixture of your parents’ children? Is there a signature mark of birth that binds the generations together? Do you walk in the steps of your ancestors? Can you see how they protected you through the years? Have you found an ancestor whose spirit is your spiritual twin?
Similarities in your life’s path or similarities in your occupation can be revealed by studying genealogy. Physical similarities are revealed in military, birth, death, and photographic records. Which ancestor do you share a birth month or day with?
As a freshman at Arkansas State University, visiting Memphis, Tennessee, was a short trip. While enjoying the friendships made and the adventure of exploring a city without direct adult supervision, there was always a nagging feeling that this was not a nice place for me. My genealogical discoveries helped me understand why.
My grandfather’s grandfather, Richard Toombs, was a soldier with the United States Colored Troops. He survived the Civil War. He survived the Memphis Riot of 1866 and the flu outbreak in 1868 before moving to Arkansas. My grandmother’s grandfather, Albert Stewart, was born in Memphis but moved his young family to Arkansas by 1880. Both ancestors chose Conway County, Arkansas, rather than Memphis as the place to raise their families.
Were my ancestors sharing their emotions with me while I roamed around Memphis? Were they connecting me to a past I would discover decades later? The spiritual connection made with these two men before I knew their names remains and influences my work in genealogy today. Come to the Research Room at the CALS Roberts Library to get started finding your own ancestoral connections.
By Rhonda Stewart, Genealogy/Local History Specialist, CALS Roberts Library