Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beginnings - Always Start Here!

Let me start with an explanation of what I am not, or, to go back to the old Appalachian way of phrasing it, with what I ain't. What I ain't is an historian. I have always had a love of history, read a lot of history, took a lot of history classes in school and just basically spent a good amount of mental time thinking about days gone by. Some of my best friends are historians. As a result, I have a pretty good sense of how the academic side of historical research works, and that's how I know with a great deal of certainty that I'm no historian. I also ain't no genealogist, though I dabble in it and rely heavily on the work of local genealogists to make sense of the complex web of family relationships that precede me.

Okay, so now that I've explained what I'm not, maybe I should try to clarify what it is that I think I am, or at least what it is that I think I'm doing. Basically, I consider myself to be a storyteller, or, in this case, a story re-teller. My task, self-appointed to be sure, is that of taking the work of historians and genealogists and whomever else I can find to throw into the mix and trying to fashion a coherent tale out of it all. The heart of my tale, I think, is a series of questions that nag at me in search of some kind of answer. Who were those people who came before me? What were they thinking and feeling when they came to Kentucky? What motivated them? What did they think of their new home? What were their lives like, day to day, year to year? How did the place (Blackberry Creek) influence the people who made their homes there and, conversely, how did those people influence the geophysical place? What, in short, are we to make of all that history as we struggle, both individually and collectively, to create a future?

So this won't be academic history (which means everything may not necessarily be 100% accurate), and it won't be genealogy, but it will draw on both of those disciplines in an effort to construct a convincing, realistic narrative about who our ancestors were and how the intersection of people and place, over time, constructed the present. Who we are. Where we are. Why we are. And, if I get lucky, maybe I can begin to hint at an answer to this one: what do we do next?

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