Last week, as I was reading another blog, I immediately felt frozen by the question proposed: "Who is your favorite ancestor?" The question, for me, was provocative. I had never considered just one ancestor as my favorite but I felt challenged by the query posed.

Considering the amount of time and research I have spent on my family history, one would think the answer would pop-up easily within my head. But with each ancestor's story unfolding as I delve into their history, I have grown quite fond of  many of my ancestors.

But as I scan over my family tree and consider the story of each, my soul pulls me toward one particular ancestor, a great-great grandfather. The story I have uncovered of my little Frenchman from Arkansas, reads like a long, heart-wrenching novel.

My ancestor found himself living within a web of Confederate sympathizers in Texas when the Civil War broke out. Where many would have joined the side closest to them, my ancestor risked his life to escape to the Arkansas Union line. As a result, he lost his first wife and children to the destruction of a bloody, brutal war. And though my great-great grandfather lived meagerly until his death, I find his strength and convictions heroic.

I suppose another question and one that for me is most difficult would be: "Who is your least favorite ancestor?"

If you have studied your family history enough then you have occasionally been blindsided by ancestors you found distasteful. But should we give them less study? Are their lives and stories not as important to our history as the heroes and heroines?

I revealed in a previous blog my delight at discovering scoundrels. Should we shudder with embarrassment of their deviations or proudly peel away the layers, revealing their dirty warts and all.

There is no wrong or right answer to any of these questions. They, instead, give you an opportunity to reflect on each ancestor closer. And as you study, perhaps you will be  challenged to learn more of your ancestors in order to answer more thoroughly the questions. 

But consider this: As you answer the questions, the challenge reveals not only stories of your ancestors but also your story. Because those that we most admire will have qualities we strive for. And those least appealing will be those with characteristics we struggle against.

Take the challenge and ponder your answers. It is an exercise that will bring you closer to your ancestors and surprisingly, to your own self.

Keep searching for answers,

Cheryl
 


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