Welcome to My Scrapbook!
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
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
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.)
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.)