Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Keeper of the Fire

In some Native American traditions and in other heritages as well, there was once a role called "keeper of the fire".   Back when keeping a fire fed and alive was vital to stay warm, to have both heat and light, it was a significant task.  

Within my family, some of my far flung cousins and kin call me "the keeper of the family fire".

That's because as a little girl, I was the child found sitting at the feet of the elders, listening to the old stories and learning the traditions.  I loved listening to my grandparents and those of their generation talk, making history come alive for me.   I had the privelege of knowing two of my great-grandmothers when I was very young and both made a siginficant impression upon me.

My grandmothers came from two different generations but I learned from them both.

When I was still a child myself I became interested in family history and began collecting all the documentation that I could.

These days, now that I'm on the journey toward one day becoming an elder myself, I'm the "go to girl" when my relatives want to know about the family.   Whether it's a genelogical question from two hundred years back or something from our common childhood, I'm the one they ask because I'm the one who paid attention enough to know.

Although I have not formally joined the Daughters of the American Revolution, I could because I can trace my lineage back on two different sides of the family to that war.   There is a monument to one of my ancestors in Point Pleasant, West Virginia and my Zumwalt kinfolk first came to Missouri because of land grants they received for their service during the Revolutionary War.   My dad's great great grandfather was the first white child born north of St.. Louis.

I also have more recent arrivals among my kith and kin.   I can look at a picture where one of my great-grandfathers was christened in England (Eckington) back in 1849 and trace my lineage to the Six Counties including County Armagh.   I can trace other family lines to Europe and connect with everything from the death camps in Therienstadt to Albert Einstein.

I have collections of photographs, paperwork, typed histories, and much more.

That's why they call me "keeper of the family fire"....I keep the heritage and history alive, handing it down to other generations.

I like history because after all you have to know where you have been before you can know where you are going.

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