When my husband and I were first married, we were in our final years of college and we lived in an apartment close to the university. One of our neighbors had an adorable little boy who was about three years old at the time. Whenever I sat out on our little patio, I could count on a visit from the cute little guy. I will never forget his steady stream of questions, and how he asked “why” following almost everything that I said. It quickly helped me to realize just how little I really knew about the world. I have thought about him a lot lately as I have frequently asked myself “why?” Why do some people seem to have more to deal with than others? Why do some seem to get so much more done in a day ? Why must it snow for three days nonstop?
|Martha Olivia Ganus|
Although asking “why” for many questions does not produce an answer and is not necessarily even productive, I have found the opposite to be true in genealogy. It’s in asking “why” that I have been led to some of my greatest finds.
It was in asking “why” John Monroe Ganus and wife Olivia were living in Alabama in 1860 instead of their home state of Georgia, that I learned they were there living among Olivia’s family, and I shared that story in this post. Asking why they were there led me to learn more about my Great Great Grandmother, Olivia’s family, the Rainwaters. And it was because I wondered “why” I could not find more about my Gurganus family in Macon that I searched faded, difficult to read, microfilmed court records for hours, which in turn led me to the sad finding of a murder trial involving my family, which I shared earlier. And, it was in asking “why” Grandma had faintly written in the corner of a little piece of paper, “John M. had a brother Jim that went to Alabama,” that I began to search for Jim Ganus and that ultimately led me to not only Jim, but Jim’s descendants and I shared what I found in this post. In addition, a picture of an unknown woman in my Grandpa Ganus’ papers led me to ask “why” her picture was among his few possessions and led me to information about my Great Grandfather William Franklin’s first wife and their daughter, Martha Olivia Ganus. I am saving that story to share at a later time. I have truly learned that with genealogical research, asking the questions helps me to stop and evaluate what I know and what I want to know and that ultimately leads to new information.
I have witnessed a fair amount of banter among individuals recently over various issues of genealogical importance and as a result, I have looked at my own research and asked another “why.” Just “why” am I doing genealogy in the first place and am I on the road that will lead me to my desired goal? Have I lost site of my original purpose and if so, “why” and what do I need to do about it? I plan to set some genealogical goals for this coming year and as I do, I certainly plan to evaluate what I do against “why” I am doing it and hopefully that will help me remain focused, lead me to some great finds and keep me out of trouble.
That curious little neighbor boy from so many years ago has long since grown up to be a man and I am sure that he has his own little children that sometimes ask him “why.” I am just as sure that he has long forgotten me and has no idea that I often think of him as I ponder issues in my own life and ask “why?”
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012