A Fresh Start

Thank you Lisa for sharing the 52 Week Blog About an Ancestor a week challenge. Lisa wrote a great post about her restless Great-Great-Grandmother Lucinda here. I recommend reading it. She inspired this genealogical newbie.

I began swimming in the ancestry pool after my grandfather passed away this summer. His passing marked a monumental shift for our family. He was the last grandparent living on either side of my family. I was no longer the grandchild. My daughter is. I was no longer the middle child. I am a mom.

I wandered around those Northern Michigan maples and oaks for a long time that week pondering how to be.

I needed to know everything.

So, after having been on this genealogy binge for about 6 mos I am happy to report I know very little in relation to my well of swelling questions. Every question answered leads to 50 more questions! The search is dizzying. But in a beautiful psychedelic-spin kind of way.Byron Tannery Mercersburg PA

For instance, my 2nd Great Grandfather, George W Sharar (b. 1854 d. 1926), hails from Mercersburg, PA and worked at Mercersburg’s Byron Tannery his whole life. Between him and his son, my Great Grandfather, Norman E Sharar (b.1875 d. 1943), coming of age their surname changed on the records 5 times! I had to check and double check children’s names, addresses, and occupations because even the birth dates weren’t totally reliable. It was a vortex of places, numbers and names. But every hole has its rabbit.

I kept looking and verifying. Then I noticed George’s son, Norman, worked at the Koenitzer Tannery in Saginaw, MI his whole life. And no one in our family has tanned hides since, (except maybe mine and my sibling’s from time to time… lol) but oddly enough, my older brother is an accomplished and self-taught leather artisan for LARPies. He makes leather armor, helmets and other accessories exquisitely. And he’s a welder! No schooling for leather working. So where does the talent come from? Could our talents and desires be tied to our genes and ancestors?

Finding connections like this are moments that make the data come alive. The dates become someone’s deceased memories reborn in my mind. I have got to believe there is a reason I am the way I am, and unlike so many others. My siblings and I are all practical-patties, we want the truth and get angry with the lies. We all work with our hands and take pride in doing what many deem “small” jobs. We are content wearing blue collars, but thirst deeply for success and perfection at whatever we do.

I’m discovering under every leaf at ancestry.com (and many other helpful record keeping libraries and sites) that I’m wired a certain way because my folks are wired a certain way because their folks were wired a certain way because, well.. you get the gist.

So, I guess the whole process feels like a “fresh start” in a way. Like that little girl who can’t hardly go to sleep because she’s too anxious to greet a new day. Fresh.


About Rochelle Cavanaugh

I'm a jack-o-all trades and master of none. I enjoy a myriad of subjects especially dealing with the world, Presbyterianism, anthropology, sociology and all things people/nature related. And I enjoy these subjects through different medias- art, music, poetry, folklore, dissertations, text books, and the list goes on. I'm a school custodian/maintenance coordinator, wife of a full-time graduate student, and mother of a 4 year old. If it's unrefined and honest, you have my undivided attention.
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