I have had a love for history for as long as I can remember. I often wonder why I did not make it my major in college. Family history is interesting to me, especially due to the complexity of my heritage. My mother’s family is from Germany and my father is from Texas. When I became a mother, I wanted to keep a record of what I discovered to make sure my children were aware of their lineage, but now as a grandmother I find it even more critical to preserve my family’s heritage.
February is the month we shine a bright light on the accomplishments and history of Black Americans. I think we should do a better job of acknowledging and sharing our history on a more regular basis. I think it is not just Black History but America’s history. Investigating our own personal history will help us understand better not only where we have come from, but also help us understand the struggles and accomplishments made by our ancestors. Keeping track of our ancestry is important for future generations and legacy. Historically the Mormon church and the Jewish people have done an amazing job of keeping track of their history. We could learn a little from their example.
For years I have been paying an annual membership to Ancestry.com in the hopes of one day connecting all the branches of my family tree. Although I started with the basics of my family history, I have not made much progress. Last year during the pandemic I decided I would get a little help working on gathering information about my paternal side of the family. I knew this would be a monumental project. I am glad that I decided to do this because what I am learning and discovering is quite phenomenal. Although I have only been able (so far) to go back to my great-great grandfather it is amazing what my forefathers (and foremothers) accomplished at the end of slavery, during Reconstruction and beyond.
Wealth can be measured in many ways, but one of the best ways is family. My great grandfather by the name of Nathan Harris purchased land in East Texas in an area known as Gary, Texas, also known as Carthage. I am not clear exactly how many acres he owned (I know it was in the hundreds), but he had enough to share with each of his children, grandchildren and now his great-grandchildren (me). As you can see this land has been in our family for generations and hopefully it will remain for generations to come. As amazing as this legacy is what I cherish even more is the gift of faith. I am grateful my grandmother gave me a strong foundation in the church.
We all have our own stories. Each of our stories are unique and although we may have some similarities, they are still different and if we do not let our voices be heard they may never be learned. Start this year gathering stories and lessons from the various members in your family. Start with the elders because we are not promised with their presence forever. Learn as much as you can about your ancestors, where they are from and the accomplishments they achieved during their lifetime. You will never forget the jewel this will be for your family. #bhm
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Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is a life strategist, coach, consultant, author, and speaker. You can hear her every Wednesday on Instagram Live at 12 noon PST @wendygladney