Sunday, September 14, 2008


I've been fiddling a lot with genealogy and scanning in a lot of family pics (did you notice?) I'm working on becoming a genealogist. Looking at the pictures and working with names has been a little surreal. Most of these photos are images that have been in my life all my life- faces of people I never knew, images of people I did know, and do know; frozen upon paper and caught in time.

The older photos, the ones of my great-grandparents and great-great grandparents, they have a special quality of both familiar and strange. I look at those faces, and think f them- this is great-grandmother Heinz, This is great-grandmother Conway (actually, great-grandmother Phillips, she got remarried). The photos my mom knows and points out, set in the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s, the 1950s.

Then I have the names. My grandmother's parents were Bertram Evan Heinz and Elsie LaBlanche DuPler. Actually, Elsie LaBlanche DuPler Heinz, but I don't think of her that way, because in genealogy charts, you record women by their maiden name. Elsie LaBlanche DuPler has been tough to find. I' not sure when she arrived in Maryland, but I suspect her family is not there. I have photos of her mother and father, but I have no idea when the photo is taken, or where (though it is around the turn of the century).

Like my grandmother, Elsie LaBlanche DuPler was an artist; I have some of her work, including a line drawing for a magazine. I've been told she did some drawing for a magazine, but no one seems to agree which magazine. She was French, and her parents were born in France; the photo I have of them does indeed look like something out of Gigi. This French lady married into a family of German Methodist ministers (the kind that don't like comfortable furniture). She had five children, four girls and a boy. The last art I have evidence of her doing is in the 1920s- apparently being a mother took precedence over self-expression.

As I was flipping through the photos of great-grandmother Heinz, it really hit me that this was her- this was Elsie LaBlanche DuPler. It was kind of like looking into the Mirror of Erised. That is her. So many stories, so much research, so much delving into records and pasts trying in vain to find her. Yet there she is. She lived. She was.

I want my boys to understand their connection to the past. Understanding history is understanding the development of thought and understanding of the world. To progress with thought and understanding, to move truly forward, to choose to move forward, you have to have an idea of where you have been. There is also something about not letting people simply fade away, lost in an oblivion of time. To make lives have worth, to not forget. To realize the impact of people you never knew, never met, upon your own life. To know that Joey's impact, Andy's impact, upon our lives will echo, will continue, will be and have been.


Osh said...

I love your pictures! What wonderful women! I have been dabbling in genealogy for years, it is a very addicting (and expensive) hobby.

Naomi said...

You might be interested in Amanda's post on ballastexistance. Her parents compiled their own personal histories for her. I don't think they went into previous generations, but relating the stories from your own childhood is also an important piece of your children's history.