I belong to a group of persons that share my ancestral history....the Termini-Imerese genealogy research group.
Around 2003, I received an email message from a cousin that I had never met before that time. The message explained that they had seen a post that I placed on a genealogy website, asking if anyone had information about the history of my family. It invited me to view a website that focused on the ancestry and civil records of my ancestral hometown.
www.termini-imerese.org was started by a distant cousin. They had begun to transcribe civil records which had been photographed by the Latter Day Saints and placed on microfilm to save for all posterity. The LDS does this for almost every state, county, town, village and church where they are allowed to photograph records. Their family history library in Salt Lake City holds filmed and published records of all kinds. The best part is that these can be viewed for free at www.familysearch.org.
Since that day in 2003, I have been able to take my family history search back to the 1700s. But, most importantly, I have met so many persons that share my ancestry. Our families connect back to the town of Termini-Imerese, in the Palermo province on the island of Sicily. We are all cousins to varying degrees. We are family.
Every year this growing group of relatives meet in a venue hosted by one of more of the club members. We share our newly found records, compare our family trees, find family connections to each other and share a few meals. Most places have an area where Italian immigrants had established themselves. We visit their businesses and restaurants. We visit their libraries and museums. We connect with the community and the people. It's just four days of meeting and greeting. And, it's our time of reaffirming our friendships and family connections.
I want to encourage everyone to learn about your family before you leave this earth. It is a very humbling task. You will learn about the people who paved the way for you to live your life. They worked, suffered, loved, lived and died. Their stories become a part of you. Imagine yourself living in the past. Would you have made the same decisions that they did? Would you have been able to navigate the uncertainty in their lives? As you learn about these ancestors, you will formulate their stories. It's not fiction. It's real.
Share your stories with your family members. They will be listening to every word, just as if you were reading them a storybook. Somehow, it makes a person stand up straighter and have some pride in who they are. Ancestors have a way of doing that to you.