Welcome to My Scrapbook!

This Scrapbook was first produced in three-ring binders and distributed in the mid-90s to a dozen or so members in different branches of our family. It contained about everything I knew about my ancestors at that time. Since then, the Internet has come into play, first as a source of information, and in the last dozen years as a means of distributing the information. Hence this “scrapbook.”

The story of how I got interested in family history can be found woven throughout this website, especially in the Compton section. As I recounted scraps of it here and there, family members knew I was interested and learning things, but “scraps” was the extent of it. I remember my Uncle Paul pressing me more than once about when was I going to share the information I was learning, but I couldn’t figure out any good way to do that.

Though I got a slow start after that first introduction as a teenager, time and technology have changed everything beyond imagination. So many things have unfolded or been discovered that it’s a challenge to pull them all together. Sadly, it still comes back to haunt me that even the hard copy scrapbooks didn’t come into being until a year after Uncle Paul was gone, and my discovery of the Internet was later yet. He would have loved this scrapbook, and I know his two sisters (my mother and my Aunt Agnes) would have, too.

One of the most amazing results of the Internet and this scrapbook is the connections I’ve made with fellow descendants of my ancestors. I’ve learned so much from them (and they at least some from me, I hope). One of those fellow descendants I’ve met in person, but most of them I only know through the marvels of e-mail.

Some of the most amazing results of the scrapbook are a couple of folks who have found me through it because of other connections, not blood ones, to our family history. There’s the amazing story of Julie who went looking for the original family of the 1883 family Bible she had bought at a pawn shop (Stauffer Bible). Another who found me here is someone whose family for more than a hundred years has owned land connected to my ancestors (Compton Farm), and he and I have learned from each other. 

The Horizontal and Vertical of Families

Have you thought about the way families have both the horizontal and vertical dimensions? For the horizontal dimension, any family in any given time reaches out in multiple branches and webs, each growing and developing other branches of its own. Anyone who tries to document family history, particularly on a computer database, runs into this. Every entry, every person, every relationship leads to others—without end.

Every member of any family also has a vertical dimension. No one on earth since Adam ever got here without being an integral part of many others. Each of us is an incredibly blended, yet completely unique combination of those who have gone before us. We are who we are because of who they were. So when I see plants outside my great-great-grandmother’s kitchen door and discover a kitten in Grandfather George’s hands in a pre-1908 family portrait, my heart says, yes! Those are my people, and part of them is still a part of me. (Never mind if you’re not into plants or kittens—you came from people with a lot of other interests.)

Speaking of families, have you thought about the fact that brothers and sisters are the only people on earth who have exactly the same set of ancestors? With every marriage, a whole new set and combination of ancestors is brought into the picture. Each new family unit created adds multiple new dimensions to the family.

Another way to look at it is that each of us is a link in a chain. All of us are descendants, and if we have children, we become ancestors. Many believe as I do that our places in the chain, both backward and forward in time, are of God’s design. He is the One who planned my personal “window in time” to be born when I was in the last century and to spend at least some time in the one we are in now.

Only One Branch of the Tree

Each descendant who browses this scrapbook needs to remember . . . for you, the people in here are only a partial set of ancestors. With the exception of my sister, everyone looking at this (including my own children), has other ancestors that I have no part in. I hope this scrapbook will whet your appetite to research and document them, too. If you have older members in your family, anyone even a generation older than you, I urge to you learn what you can from them while you can. When they are gone, it will be too late!

Making Them Come Alive

It has been a long-term pleasure putting this scrapbook together. I love fleshing out the lives of my predecessors based on the hard facts I come up with about them (most recently, Connecticut Porters). I’ve enjoyed “talking to” a few of them in the form of letters (e.g., Robert), and I enjoy imagining interactions with them (“Hot Cider Across the Centuries” at the end of Abraham Stauffer’s Family). I smile trying to imagine what they would think if they could know what I am doing.

I am not done yet and never will be. I have at least two other newly discovered branches of the family, the Huntleys and Diefenbachs, that I haven’t even started to get into scrapbook form. Acquiring information via the Internet makes it pile up faster that I can process it for the scrapbook.

Even more important than those, I need to do much more with the recent generations, such as my parents’ and grandparent’s lives and even my own. Recent generations are harder to set down than earlier ones because there is so much information that it’s hard to know what to include and what to leave out. Because right now I am the oldest living member of our immediate family, even though I may not remember what you told me yesterday, I know some things from long ago family history that no one else knows, and I need to somehow get it anchored down.

So welcome!

To what? To the world of some very real people. Without them, none of us would be here! I hope you enjoy….

(I acknowledge that these stories undoubtedly have some flaws. Any inaccuracies are unintentional, and I apologize for them in advance. I’ve had a handful of corrections on them already pointed out, and that’s good.)