Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Love History

I am republishing the first post for those of you who have joined the blog recently. Together, this post and the Year's End post share my purpose for beginning the blog, as well as suggesting some archived posts you may want to read. I have progressed well on the book manuscript and will continue to keep you advised. Thank you for your support, and please continue providing your input with checks in the boxes at the end of each post, clicks on +1, and comments. If you would like to receive an e-mail advising you of each new post, it is easy. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and you will find a window asking if you would like to follow the blog by e-mail. Type your e-mail address in the window and click on "submit." You will be sent an e-mail at the address you typed asking you to confirm that you sent the request. Follow the instructions in that e-mail to confirm, and you will begin receiving the new posts. I appreciate very much all of you who continue to share the blog site with others who might enjoy it! Happy New Year!!

I love history!  It gives us such a road map of achievements to emulate and mistakes to avoid.  When I am discouraged by things happening in the world in which I live, I am heartened by reading history.  If they made such a mess of things--and they often did--and their world survived, then perhaps our own mixed-up world can survive the problems we have created.  It would be better, of course, if we learned the lessons of history and avoided those mistakes, but that happens too rarely to count on it.

History need not always be learned from books.  My brother was much more clever about this than I was.  He would sit quietly in the corner of a room filled with adult conversations, pretending to read or play some game but all the time listening to what was being said.  He learned many adult things this way when he was still a little boy.  I, on the other hand, could only sit quietly for so long before something was said that roused my curiosity and I asked a question.  Immediately, I was told to go outside to play.  I should have learned to stay quiet, but I was then and remain a person who asks questions.

Part of the great joy in discovering something new is sharing what you've learned.  For the past two years I have been immersed in research, initially begun with the idea of writing about three sets of great grandparents who homesteaded within a few miles of each other in south-central Kansas.  I was raised in the house in which my father was born, built by my grandfather and great-grandmother, so family history, as well as community history during four generations, gives me a strong sense of place and a foundation of knowledge about the neighborhood.  As I did my research I wanted to ask questions, but most of the people with the answers were no longer alive.  Since I could not listen for answers from the older generations, it reminded me of my childhood when I had to figure things out for myself.  I had no idea how much fun I would have doing that.

I am beginning this blog to share the adventure of my research and writing with you.  All three sets of my great grandparents will be mentioned in the book, but an unexpected surprise during the research took me on a different path.  Some of you know about my encounter with a bachelor homesteader named Isaac.  One of you observed how much time I have spent with Isaac and told my husband, "Your wife is the only woman I know who is having an affair with a dead man!"  All I can say to that is, it has been quite an adventure that has become my passion.  George Macaulay Trevalyan said it beautifully:  "If one could make alive again for other people some cobwebbed skein of old dead intrigues and breathe breath and character into dead names and stiff portraits--That is history to me!"

I hope that in coming months people will enjoy reading my book, but in the meantime, I'll share with you the adventure of researching and writing it.

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