For we walk by faith, not by sight.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:7
I have always loved history. My family lineage is rooted in the soil of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, close to where the nation’s history began. Early elementary school history lessons captivated me; school field trips to Jamestown and Williamsburg brought history to life.
In my early career, my daily commute took me past the national headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). I was fascinated by the organization and thought it would be amazing to be a descendant of someone involved in founding our nation. Since no one in my family had ever talked about our ancestors, I figured our history was insignificant.
Decades later, during a chat with an older once-removed cousin, I learned he had been researching our genealogy for more than 30 years. His quest had taken him to countless county courthouses, where he spent hundreds of hours scouring archived records. He told me several of our ancestors were Patriots who had fought in some of the fiercest battles of the Revolution. He willingly shared copies of census records, marriage certificates, wills and family Bible records. The genealogy bug bit me. Hard.
Memories of passing the NSDAR building danced through my mind. With my newly learned ancestry knowledge, could I actually prove my lineage to a Patriot? I was excited about the possibility.
I eagerly began laying out my own family tree, which I soon discovered is actually more like a briar patch. Some of my relatives show up on both sides of my family; a few show up more than once on the same side. Brothers in one family married sisters from another, which not only made some of my kinfolk double cousins, it made me my own 6th cousin.
As I eagerly worked to prove my bloodline descent, my own history came alive. I discovered both Currituck and Camden Counties in North Carolina have well-documented genealogy websites; my history was literally at my fingertips. I learned my 7th great-grandfather (my chosen Primary patriot) and other families gathered to boldly drive a wooden pole in a field, declaring independence from England. My great-grandfather eagerly signed up as a freedom-fighter, as did three of his sons, a son-in-law and his son-in-law’s father. Off into battle they went.
While their bravery is obvious, I thought about how difficult it must have been for the women left behind. I had glimpses of the family’s faith in their recorded history, but I found myself pondering how they had to walk out their faith in ways I could not imagine. My 7th great-grandmother had to care for a slew of kids, and grandkids, and tend to the family farm. Their survival depended on her. She must have kissed her husband and sons farewell knowing she may never see them again. Months, or perhaps years, would pass before she would see them again. If they were killed in battle, she may never know where they were buried.
I envision my great-grandmother reading Scripture by candlelight in an old rocking chair, kneeling bedside on rough hardwood floors praying fervently for the Lord’s protection on her family, near and far. I can almost hear her singing psalms and hymns while she labored on the homestead.
On July 5, 2005, I was admitted into the NSDAR. It is an honor to be a daughter, a descendant, of a true American Patriot who had a role in founding this nation. However, I am even more honored to be a descendant of those women who fought for our nation’s independence on their knees.
Happy Independence Day!