Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weathered Stone

As my students continue to make fabulous connections to their heritage and ask questions about what defines oneself, I find myself drifting back to the hobbyist genealogy work I began a few years ago. One of the links I found for my students (see the Heritage Research Tools on the right bar of the Webriver Blog) introduced me to some new names in my wife's family tree, and some interesting sites on cemetery archiving. Genealogists talk about hitting a brick wall, and how excited they get when it comes down and there is new territory to explore. My students have described this, too, in the last couple of weeks, the experience of staying up all night to find one more story, names, event, or connection online or in an old book rediscovered. Finding out about stuff that was "there" but hidden from them for a variety of reasons, mostly that their curiousity was never trained on the subject.

The students have been telling me their stories, so I told one of mine... here's a part of what I shared in class today, using good old-fashioned story-telling, Google Earth, a couple of websites, and a pull down map. My "treasure" was found at about 1 a.m. as I trained my own curiosity on some of the missing links in my wife's family tree. It seems a researcher visited a Cape Breton cemetery, wandered over to the adjacent woods, and found an old gate leading to more gravestones midst the brush and trees. One of the stones he found marked the grave of my wife's great-great-grandfather in Point Edward Nova Scotia (pic shown above). The only other info I had for him was that he was lost at sea, so now I have two stories to reconcile, and some excitement about the evidence. I'll have to visit there one day to see for myself and look around for the stones of two others whose names are listed as being there. The street view on Google Earth, which includes the old church and cemetery helped me visualize what was going on and speculate about the cultural, economic, and geographical adaptations that had been made in this area of Nova Scotia. Like my students, I find my thoughts drifting back to images, maps, stories, historical contexts, concurrent events, and evolving landscapes... not a bad way to spend time in a Social Studies class.

1 comment:

Thielmann said...

follow-up... I came home and showed the gravestone and associated church to my wife (her great-grandparents and great-greats are buried there, after all) and she says "oh yeah, I've been there before... didn't go into the woods though... I think my parents were married there." The place gets more interesting all the time.