Monday, November 24, 2008

The Whole is Equal to the Sum of Its Parts: A Thanksgiving Meme

Julie over at GenBlog is hosting a Thanksgiving meme. The task is to write about two things for which we are thankful, then encourage others to do the same. I personally am thankful for about a million things. However, since WeTree is a genealogy blog, I shall limit my meme to two family-history topics.

First, I must say I am thankful for the history keepers: past, present, and future. Everything I have learned thus far about my family is due to the fact that someone took the time to save their stories, their photos, their records and evidence that they walked this planet. This group includes archivists, librarians, and amateur genealogists. It also includes fellow genea-bloggers who have a similar passion for history and share their own ancestors' experiences. I enjoy reading your blogs. Thank you for sharing them.

Second, I am thankful for my ancestors. Discovering their stories has shaped my life and put my own experiences in perspective. The whole is equal to the sum of its parts. In my case, the parts include:

Nancy Bourland (1846-1913) moved her eight children (and one on the way) to the family's new homestead in Indian Territory. Her husband passed away while stopped for supplies in Texas and never made it to the new home. Widowed Nancy went on to raise her children, complete with formal education, while running the ranch. She is my great-great-great grandmother. Her story puts my little complaints about life in perspective.

Emile Bourgaux (1866-1948) was born in Belgium but came to America at 19, likely for the same reasons as millions of other immigrants. He and his wife settled in Acadia Parish, Louisiana, where he ran a successful business until it was destroyed by fire. Bourgaux moved to another parish town and started again. He and his wife also had 13 children, at least 5 of whom died in infancy. Emile is my great-great grandfather, and I hope I have inherited some of his perseverance.

William Woodberry Williamson (1853-1942) is my easy study. He was born, lived and died in the same Arkansas county. His presence is noted in dozens of records. He was widowed three times, always with young children to raise. By all accounts, he led a straight-laced, good, Christian life. However, a single church record admonishing Williamson for playing cards for pleasure is what defines my great-great grandfather for me. Live your life in service to others, but don't forget to sneak in a little fun time for yourself.

Lastly, I have to mention the family Thibodeaux. Even in the vast ocean of Thibodeauxs out there, my little branch is unique. Though their conduct isn't always admirable, evidence of their presence on this Earth is always entertaining. If I had the time, I could probably write a book about my hell-raising great-great grandfather and the equally hell-raising son who never knew him. Perhaps I inherited a dash of mischief from this branch, but I choose to stay on this side of the law.

Each of my ancestors has a story. In time, I hope to tell them all. For now I will continue to gather informational pieces and shape the puzzles of their lives. When a picture forms, it helps me see where I've come from and prepares me for where I am going. I understand the importance of these stories and for that, I am truly thankful.


  1. Guess what? You've we're playing tag again, and you're it!

  2. You're it again!

    Have a great day, Amy!