Monday, January 6, 2014

Answering An Unknown Number


It grazed my mind that I should call a couple of the places I sent emails to just before the holidays regarding membership. I reached out because in order to become a member of these heritage based organizations you need to prove your lineage as well as have a member sponsor your application. However, like so many thoughts in the midst of a hectic day, it quickly evaporated in the bitterly cold dry air not to touch upon the gray matter for the remainder of the working hours. At least that is what I thought….

Toward the end of the day my phone began to ring as I was waiting for my email to refresh on the screen. Not recognizing the number I questioned, I swiped my finger across the screen and answered in a usual authoritative business-like manner. While the accent caught me off guard, I quickly realized that the one of the tasks forgotten during the early part of the work day was about to take care of itself. And so our conversation began.

While trying to rekindle the genealogy research that has been put on hold in recent months (upon months) I began looking for different groups and heritage societies in the area where I might be able to, at a minimum, learn a little bit more about the culture in the deep and distant past of my family (most of our long standing heritage could easily be described simply as American). The two dominant cultures in my family histories (yes, there are numerous blood lines, stories, and histories) are of German and Irish origin with Germany having a substantial percentage lead. Honestly not knowing much about either I looked for different groups where I may learn a little more. That led me to the Irish Society and the German Society of Pennsylvania (both located in Philadelphia). Because you need a member to sponsor you for each I sent out emails in late December.

Today, when I answered the phone, I knew what the call was about as soon as I heard the thin German accent. IT was an interesting conversation because this was a man I had never met before but you could tell in our dialog that we shared a common interest and at some level and ancestral bond. Making the connection even stronger is the fact that the Society was founded about two months after Jacob Duffordt arrived in Philadelphia aboard the Hero on the 27th of October 1764. My family and this proud society share the same anniversary and we will both be celebrating 250 years.

While there are blood lines that I can trace further back in this land and even a few that were here since before the colonies were even a consideration, the celebration of your surname, your family name, does add a tremendous amount of appreciation, pride, and humility. I am proud to be a very small part in the story of my family and I am hoping to bring things around full circle by honoring our heritage and appreciating a bit of the culture we carried with us on that prolonged and exhausting journey across the ocean from Rotterdam to Philadelphia. Just goes to show that sometimes you have to take a step back or return to the beginning in order to keep moving forward.