Knowing the Ancestors

Keel Sadie & Bill c1949
My great-grandparents, William Jesse Keel and Sarah Annis (Peal) Keel

My dad is 88 and has outlived everyone in his line, older than all of them except Aunt Maglene who died at 98. His memory is spotty and names are hard, but he has strong, clear memories of growing up in his small North Carolina town. I love knowing about the ancestors and being able to prompt questions and appreciate answers because I know who they are and how they fit.

I have an Ancestry app on my phone and can pull up the tree with its details and photo gallery at the drop of a hat. Want to know how much his mother earned in 1940? Who were the neighbors? What did (great grandmother) Mama Jane look like?  Did any of Dad’s grandparents die of cancer? With a few clicks, I can get an answer.

I’ve been researching the family tree since I was 16 and most of the time it just feels like I’m the only one who cares about the results. The exceptions are the drama-queen ancestors that are fun to talk about. But the everyday folks? I know or can piece together their stories. I’m especially glad now that I can share and appreciate those stories with my dad.

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