Now that I've been "doing" family history for awhile, I'm seeing some themes that run from generation to generation. Recently I read someone's blogpost that suggested it would be good to note these down, more or less as guideposts, so that this current generation, and the generations following, would have at least a general idea of who we are besides names and dates.
The two strong themes that I see running through our families, for generations back, are God and education. We have sub themes, like serving our country, and of course love seems to wrap around everything, but I keep coming back to God and education. Of course, to a certain extent God and education go hand in hand, although it is quite possible to have either without the other. Still, most pastors were educated, and they made sure their families were educated, too, if only to read the Bible and religious books.
I've written about some of the pastors in our family but there are more who may or may not be the topic of a blog post at some point. From Richard Allen to Roger Williams to William Eddy, we are descended from a long line of pastors who have taught us about the love of Jesus, each in their own way. The last time I counted, there were at least 24 pastors in the Holbrook and Allen lines. If one continues back into distant England, some of our ancestors were bishops and archbishops, but I'm not sure we want to claim some of those people!
Besides pastors, we have ancestors who were church leaders, from Elder William Brewster to elder Edward Allen. We have Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, Puritans, Church of England, and a few Lutherans (there is a German line, after all), and many of our ancestors helped establish their local church, of whatever denomination. We may even had had a Roman Catholic or two in early Maryland, but I'm still working on that. My hope and prayer is that all of these people served the Lord with all their hearts.
Education is also a common theme in our family. Ralph Wheelock was one of the first schoolteachers in New England, and in the recent past we have seen great grandparents and grandparents who taught school. Those who didn't teach went to school and learned. We have very few known ancestors who couldn't read or write. Many of those in more recent generations have gone to college, and some have multiple degrees. Those who chose not to go to college have acquired an education in their own way, such as through their jobs, reading, or watching on line courses intensively.
I personally find it fascinating that the very book that means the most to me, the Bible, is the same one that our ancestors have been reading for over 400 years (more, in some cases) and if I read a King James version, it's the very same words. On top of all the other reasons for reading the Bible, this is an intriguing one. What did Roger Williams think, when he read the same words I'm reading? Did Nicholas Street preach on this passage?
God, and education, are the reasons we can find a connection to our ancestors, even though we may understand nothing of the rest of their lives. Will our descendents also find that God and education have continued as themes, generations from now?