The Power of Standing Where Your Ancestors Stood

A few weeks ago my family gathered for a reunion in southern Indiana, just over the border from Kentucky, where my mom’s grandfather came from. She was excited to be so close to the state of her grandfather’s ancestry and worked hard to develop a book of pictures and stories about our Kentucky ancestors to share with her grandchildren. Her desire was to cross the border into Kentucky–even though we were near western Kentucky and her ancestors came from eastern Kentucky.

She was able to make that trip with her husband and all 6 kids. We barely went over the border, and took a picture of a sign with the word Kentucky in it. She was thrilled and could barely contain her excitement to stand on Kentucky soil.

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Several years ago I made the trip to Isonville, Kentucky. I talked with some old-timers who remembered their grandparents talking about crazy Richmond Ison who left Kentucky to join the Mormons in Arizona and wondering what ever happened to him. They directed me to the cemetery with the gravestones of Richmond and Martha’s two young children. How it must have broken their heart to leave these little graves behind. It was such a wonderful experience to drive around the little town and countryside and walk where they walked in the cemetery.

The first time I had this experience is when I lived in Ohio and was a brand new genealogist. My 3rd great grandfather Levi Savage was born about an hour where I lived. I showed up at the town archives and they very kindly took me under their wing and helped me trace from the 1820ish land deeds to current deeds and the current address. Due to their kindness, I was able to stand near where he lived, although I was hesitant to trespass so just stood on the street corner. The land was not developed, so I was able to get a sense of how it might have looked when Levi and his family lived there. It was powerful.

Have you had the opportunity to stand where your ancestors stood? How did you feel?