I have never been into genealogies or family history. Then my mom pulled a tub out from under her bed that my father had kept through the years. Dad kept old family pictures of people I never knew existed. There were pictures of his aunts and uncles, many of whom had died before I was ever born. There were collected bits and pieces of the past couple generations of my family. I found it fascinating to discover a little family history and fill in some blank spaces in my mind.
The most interesting piece was a newspaper clipping from a 1932 newspaper. It was the story of my great, great-grandfather. His name was Isaac Goladay and one of his daughters was named Ella, and she married Wallace Harris. Wallace was the father of Earnest, who was the father of Fred, who was my father.
Isaac was the last surviving Civil War veteran living in Walnut Township of Montgomery County Indiana upon his death. That is where the story takes an interesting turn that I never knew. This one newspaper clipping gave all the details.
Apparently, my great, great-grandfather had grown deaf over time. It ‘s nice to know some traditions continued clear to me. Then one faithful day, he was trying to cross the railroad track, and he did not hear the train coming. Once he was on the tracks, he saw the train but was too feeble to get back over the rail before getting hit. That’s right, my great, great-grandfather was struck and killed by a train.
The article went on to tell about his life in New Ross, Indiana and his surviving family. Within this one column was a second interesting paragraph. There is stated that before his death he had spent several months in a sanitarium. Okay, what? My mother explained to me that a sanitarium could have been for something like Tuberculosis or another disease. It could also mean he was going crazy. It is possible it could have been the result of a primitive diagnosis of dementia or even Alzheimer’s disease. No matter how you look at it, it does not paint a pretty picture.
Reading this one piece of newspaper that had been kept for 85 years was an eye-opening experience. My heritage is a civil war veteran who went deaf and possibly crazy until he was hit by a train. It reminds me why I have never been interested in my ancestry, I mean, who knows what you will find if you dig deep enough.
Then I was thought of the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew. His record mentions Rahab, who is considered to be a harlot or prostitute. It mentions the wife of Uriah. That is a reference to Bathsheba who David had an affair with and then plotted to have Uriah killed. It also mentions kings who were not so Godly and helped to make a mess of a nation. Even Jesus family tree had a couple of knots.
I think we continually need to be reminded that we are not just the product of our past. This applies to your family history. Whoever your ancestors were may have helped you to be born here, affected how you look and even your social status, but that is only your beginning. You have the freedom to choose your own path. Whatever mistakes were in your family history are not your defining attribute.
You may be the product of your family’s history, but the future belongs to you. God specializes in taking misfit families and turning them into his family. Always allow God to shape your future far more than anything in your past.