Why Genealogy? And the pictures that started it all!

Last night I went to the Family History Center just long enough to order the microfilms I needed for Somerset County, PA – taxes, naturalization records, church records, etc. Yup, just a brief stop and then I’d head home and start my after-work chores. Well, lucky for me, two of the eight films I’d planned to request were there! I didn’t get any new info, but I was able to confirm info I’d found online at PA-Roots.org. (Needless to say, it is always exhilarating to see the original document, even though it wasn’t “new” information!) While wrapping up for the night, I was chatting with the volunteer who was manning the library. “So what go you interested in genealogy?” he asked.

Who is this handsome man?

Page 22 of Lavina Bursley Stanwood

The thrill of solving these puzzles is what has me hooked and keeps me feverishly seeking answers to my family mysteries. But the feeling of “connectedness” to my family and to my ancestors is what inspired me to start. My grandmother certainly instilled a love of family history and ignited in me what has turned into a lifelong passion. She was also intrigued with her family history, and was given the photo album that had belonged to her own grandmother, Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood. The album is now quite worn, and I’m sure that my own grandmother added to the wear; she related to me her fascination with the pictures when she was a young child, and would often thumb through and study the photos. Unfortunately, her grandmother died before she was born, and there are quite a few pictures that present unsolved mysteries. The photo above is the one that has intrigued ME the most. I’ve always assumed it’s Benjamin Bursley, my great-great-great grandfather, but have yet to identify him positively. Whoever he is, he sure was handsome and had kind eyes!

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood and family

Albert & Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood and family – Bottom row: Albert, Susan, & Benjamin; top – Lavina, Fred, Bert, Georgianna and Melvin

My grandmother gave me an original of this photo one year for Christmas. I had it touched up and framed where it hangs next to my “heritage cabinet” – the antique hutch (actually, I think it used to be a gun cabinet that we restored) where I keep my antique books, my grandmother’s autograph book, mom’s baby book, and other genealogical treasures. I especially love it as it’s Stanwood – my favorite family line. Someday I’ll have to write a post about Betsy Wasgatt Stanwood, my sixth great grandmother, and my favorite ancestor.


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