Sooner or later every researcher comes across the will that reads "having already received his part",
or a legacy left to a daughter, "as her sole and exclusive property". Then there's the occasional letter
lamenting that "haven't heard from brother or sister for some nine years now", or the family legend
relating how Uncle Bill had a disagreement with his family, left and was never heard from again.
Every family has it's share of "lost" individuals and lost families. Though some of the losses are
undoubtedly unavoidable, one wonders how much family contact is lost forever because of the petty
disagreements. The child who never knows a grandparent's love or learns the value of shared common
goals is indeed deprived of his or her heritage. Three hundred years later, the reason for the feud has
been lost along with the record of that family who chose to remove themselves from the family circle.
Yet, like the rest of mankind, families continue to disagree over such insignificant things as property
and real or imagined snubs , and sibling rivalry is not limited to childhood. How sad that it should be so!
Within this family group, one will find families of every religious and political persuasion, many, many
ethnic differences, yet all are bound together by a common ancestor. No matter how "lost" we become
to history, that genetic blueprint will follow us through all eternity. Put into perspective, the petty argument
over who gets "grandma's brooch" seems far less important than our children's knowledge of who they
are and where they belong in the family group.
Throughout this history, you will find excerpts from military records and pension applications of those family
members who served honorably and well from the beginning of this country's history to the present day.
They must and shall be honored. Yet, the widows and orphans left behind deserve no less honor for their
choices were few, and their burdens great. Many of them became casualties of war just as surely as the
fathers and sons who left them on a frontier with few assets to sustain life. Could the cause have been so
great as to be worth the cost when even family could not agree on which cause was worth fighting for?
Does it matter which soldier was right or wrong if brothers chose opposite sides of the conflict?
It has been said that a true friend is someone who knows all our strengths and weaknesses and loves us in
spite of them. Should a family be any less? If this effort serves only one useful purpose, perhaps it will remind
us that life is short, and conflict only creates irretrievable loss to us all.