Shaking the Family Tree – The Fun and Importance of Knowing Where You Come From

Shaking the Family Tree – The Fun and Importance of Knowing Where You Come From

Larry Dewberry, senior living resident at Dunwoody Pines, shows pictures from his family tree.

Ever wonder why you ended up being born in one particular area of the country instead of another? Maybe you’re not sure where that strange middle name of yours came from. Or perhaps your family has a peculiar holiday tradition that no one else seems to have.

Chances are, the answers to all of those burning questions – and many others – can be attributed to your ancestors. How they arrived in the United States searching for religious freedom or financial opportunity. How they managed to make a living, build homes, and raise families. How certain names, foods and cultural traditions reminded them of their homeland.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s fascinating to learn about your ancestry. Not only is it a fun family project around the holidays, it’s a wonderful way to honor and show respect to the loved ones who came before. Better yet, it’s easier than ever to do so, thanks to a host of websites dedicated to connecting families across multiple generations, including these:

Why is it worth doing?

There are countless reasons to dig deeper into family history. The most obvious being to get a better understanding of who we are, what makes us human and unique; because in reality, we are all an accumulation of our life experience, as well as those who came before us.

Family history also helps to keep memories alive for future generations. We all want our kids, grandkids and great grandchildren to know where their ancestors came from and to be proud of them.

Above all, when we explore our ancestry, we enrich our lives. From immigration records to marriage records and even gravestones, historical documents offer a view into the past. With more and more databases becoming publicly available, the search into your family’s history can be more comprehensive than ever before.

Keeping up with the Dewberrys

A great example of this can be found with our own Larry Dewberry, a resident at Dunwoody Pines and a native of Carroll County, Georgia. Not long ago, Larry’s brother in Alpharetta, Georgia, received a strange phone call from a man in Washington, DC, who knew a lot of information about the Dewberry family. Turns out that man was Sidney Arthur Dewberry and he was helping another Sidney (Alton) Dewberry create a book on their family lineage.

The result was a comprehensive genealogical survey of Dewberry families in America between 1665 and 2003. It took 50 years of research by the authors, including 12 years of full-time efforts by Sidney Alton Dewberry after he retired in 1991. Dating back to Thomas Dewberry (the first Dewberry to arrive from England in 1665), the book contains approximately 10,000 family members connected through blood and/or marriage. As you can imagine, there are many stories of hardship, tragedy, failure and success.

According to Larry: “The book is a revelation that I cherish every day. I find it very satisfying to know all about where I came from.”

Of course, we’re not suggesting that everyone who starts digging around their roots will end up with a 50-year research project. But we promise you that spending some time exploring your ancestry with your family over the holidays will be both a revealing and rewarding experience. Especially if your middle name is Kowalski and your family always has kolaches at Thanksgiving.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, November, 2017.

sunshine retirement living logo