I remember the day we were walking around the cemetery, looking for the graves of my great-uncle Owen and his wife Fern, when I noticed a number of graves with close to the same death dates. I asked my grandmother, who usually had the answers, "Why did so many people die around the same time? Was there a fire or an explosion?" "No," she replied, "it was the flu." The fact that most of them were young people, not much older than I was at the time, made it all the more poignant. Compound that with the sad story of Aunt Fern and the romantic tale of my grandparents' meeting, and you had a genealogy fanatic for life.
|Fern Walker Smith|
We visited Collinsville often when I was a young girl, but after Uncle Owen and Grandpa and Grandpa's sister Aunt Lou were gone, we only visited the cemetery once in a while. Flash forward 30 years and my son marries a girl whose grandparents live outside of Collinsville. They buy a little house on Broadway, not far from where my grandpa's father, Stephen Albert Smith, ran his boarding house. Then I become a widow and move 10 minutes away so that I can see them more often. I drive by the cemetery when I leave their house and think about Grandpa Smith, Uncle Owen and Fern, Aunt Lou, Mrs. Walker, and all those young people whose lives were taken by the flu.
(L to r) Uncle Turner, ?, Uncle Albert, Grandpa,
Uncle John holding the horse
So today I begin this blog about genealogy and my family. I want to write about events that happened long ago that might still have some relevance for today. I’ve noticed that some things seem to cross the generations—spirituality and bravery and lost love—and I want to write about those things. I’ll be thinking about what pushes me to keep searching—to find connections between the past and the present, to be the bridge between my ancestors and my descendants, even those yet to come.