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Discover Your Genealogy

Published On: Nov 15 2013 04:06:54 PM CST

I personally don't know much about my ancestors beyond my grandparents.  I've heard stories from my parents and grandparents but have never internalized and stored those facts away.  But ancestry and genealogy is important and nowadays much easier to discover and access through websites and groups.  Two people in our Kansas community had what they perceived to be a pretty vast knowledge of their histories; but a chance conversation in the Hesston College cafeteria led them to discover not only more about their individual histories but about their SHARED ancestry. 

Sharon Crawford, an African American woman, and Dwight Roth, a white Amish Mennonite man, found common ground through a shared family name then confirmed their relation through a history book in the Hesston College Library.  They are connected by two Amish Mennonite brothers who came to Pennsylvania from Switzerland in the 1700s.  They separated from one another over the issue of slavery - John Mast saw the opportunity to make money through the slave trade while Jacob Mast was a spiritual man who did not agree with slavery.  While John moved to North Carolina to participate in the slave trade, Jacob remained in Pennsylvania.  Sharon descends from John's line while Dwight descends from Jacob.

Out of their experience, Sharon and Dwight decided to write down their shared ancestry and eventually to write a book.  Both say the discovery has given them a new understanding of themselves and a sense of pride in the people from whom they descended.  Both also feel a deep relational connection to their ancestors - Sharon to her Great-Grandpa Charlie and Dwight to a relative named Benuel.

They also encourage anyone wanting to learn more about his/her past to look into genealogy.  Here in Wichita there are definitely some resources at your disposal.  The popular website Ancestry.com is certainly an option and the Wichita Public Library and Wichita Genealogical Society are also helpful.

Dig into your past to enrich your future!  You never know what you might discover.

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