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The end of a year traditionally places us at a point of nostalgic review while instilling a spark of hope for new beginnings. And as this genealogy blog has matured throughout the last twelve months, I am forced to examine its functionality to the website it is planted upon.

When developing my website, I originally viewed it as a vehicle to make my family history book more available to genealogists. With that, I have attempted to provide visitors quick access to genealogy sites I have found useful, available and at little to no cost.

But as I quickly learned, the "build it they will come" phrase, does not apply to new websites. So, after long nights of studying the assertions of experts much wiser than myself, I began writing a weekly blog in order to increase traffic to my site.

Gradually developing this weekly stint into something the researcher could grab hold of and make useful, I in turn, learned from my experiences and mistakes. And as a lover of story, I am drawn to the uniqueness of life: the curiosity of another individual; peeling back the layers of my ancestors to discover bits of their personalities and histories. And I have been humbled by my realizations.

As I have uncovered my ancestor's stories, I have been blindsided by their tragic life experiences and their ability to withstand loss: parents that buried their babies, year after year. Entire families erased away by diseases such as Typhoid Fever and Smallpox. In contrast, our daily worries appear trivial in comparison.

Though very proud to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the discovery that my Scottish ancestor was jailed as a Loyalist lead me to face the "dark side" of the Revolution. The war atrocities within both armies and the bitter hatred amongst neighbors: Loyalists who lost their properties and were subjected to brutal, horrific attacks.

As I uncovered the wills and personal writings of my great-great-great-grandfathers, I was chilled with the reality that I had ancestors who owned other human beings. And to understand that an entire culture coldly accepted that a person could be sold and traded like furniture or be discarded like old, worn out shoes.

I was disheartened to think of the prejudices my Irish ancestors had to withstand just to settle and raise a family within the same country as I currently live. And I pause to wonder if the prejudices my ancestors faced are parallel to the current struggle of our immigrants of today.

Where would any of us be, had our ancestors not been allowed to immigrate to America?

The undertaking of genealogy, if done properly, can and will change you as an individual. If you look for the story and seek out the truth; you will be moved into a different direction. And as you find your ancestors, you will find yourself.

The development of this blog has, as the experts predicted, increased traffic to my little site. Over the last year I have welcomed over 70,000 visitors; much more than I ever imagined.

With fresh eyes to review a year in the life of my blog, I do see the value of its being. I have grown through my discoveries and stories and I hope you have benefited from my revelations.

I'm not certain what direction this blog will take next but it most likely will continue to reveal more stories; at least in some form. Because once you start peeling away the layers, you struggle until you reach the core. And as you find your ancestor's core, you will find your own.

Thank you for visiting and keep searching for answers.

Cheryl

 


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