"We were back there
in history as a part of our ancestors"
Since H.G. Wells wrote his great
novel, The Time Machine, men have shared his dream of
a machine to journey into the past. The "Back to the Future"
movies are a more recent manifestation of this dream.
Time and events in time have shaped our civilization and therefore
shaped usour hopes and aspirations, our values and customs,
even our language. The blood of men and women who have long since
turned to dust flows in our veins. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote
that "We are the children of many sires, and every drop
of blood in us in its turn betrays its ancestor."
It is no wonder that the past
fascinates us and that we sometimes dream of a wonderous vehicle
that will take us backward in time. Unfortunately we do not have,
and probably will never have, such an electronic device.
We do, however, have the words and thoughts of those who have
gone before us. These, plus our own imagination, are probably
the closest we will ever get to time travel, the closest we will
ever get to meeting our ancestors face-to-face and experiencing
the events that they did.
While the science of electronics
will not help us here, the science of genealogy will. Through
genealogy you can embark in your own personal time capsule on
a trip back into history to meet people who have had more influence
on your life than any othersyour ancestors.
As you travel back into your
family history, the better you get to know your forebears, the
better you will get to know yourself. Through a genealogical
search you can come to a much more complete understanding of
who and what you are and why. The immortality of humans on earth
consists of chromosomes passed from parents to child. In a sense,
we were there back in history as a part of our ancestors.
The word genealogy comes from
two Greek words"Genea," meaning descent, and "logos,"
meaning discourse. In its narrowest sense it is the study of
individuals and their relationship, wherein complete identification
Every human being has a mother and a father. The heart of genealogy
is merely determining as correctly as possible who the mother
and father of any given person were.
It most likely began with the
concept of inheritance. A primitive tribe owning all in common
had no need for genealogy. Once it was determined that crowns
(and other titles) or property should remain in the family, it
became necessary to determine who were the members of a family.
In its broadest sense genealogy is a scientific study which contributes
to and coordinates with many related fields of learning such
as history, biography, geography, sociology, law, medicine, and
In this sense, the term "family history" could more
aptly be used. Family history is the focus of The Brownell
Chronicle because we want to know more about our ancestors
than mere names and dates. We want to know the stories of their
lives, and how they were interwoven into the fabric of history.
The word "genealogy" is fast losing its stuffy association
with elderly aunts, upper-class statesmen, and cobwebbed scholars.
In fact, ancestor hunting has become one of the most popular
hobbies, one of the greatest forms of collectingexcept that
instead of acquiring Indian-head pennies or first-day covers,
you are collecting the historical pieces of yourself.
Genealogy has been compared to a gigantic jigsaw puzzle-a puzzle
in which you yourself are one of the pieces. The fun of ancestor
hunting is not just in the finding but also in the looking. A
fan of detective stories said, "Trying to solve mysteries
in your own family is more fun than seeing them solved in Agatha
Christie or John D. MacDonald."
Genealogy is an adventure, a
hunt in which you must use your ingenuity and perseverance. A
hunt which may ultimately lead you halfway around the world on
paper or in actuality, and yet, back to yourself and a greater
realization of your own place in the finely woven fabric of the
history of mankind.