Monday, February 18, 2013

The road to hell...

is paved with good intentions so the saying goes... and my blog is paved with them too currently. I am so sorry for my tardiness yet again. Please stick with me, I will return to normal service soon...

Lawrence Co. Arkansas 
where many of my Grandma Sally Campbell Chapman's family lived and died.

Time has just been flying by and it is feels like I can't keep up. It is not exactly a comfortable feeling. It was just the holidays, January started and Stewart arrived and then I was sick for twenty days and working and suddenly my trip is fast approaching and I feel overwhelmed by all I have to do and all I want to do. I want to spend time with my friends and family before I go. I also want to show Stewart some new things while he is here, however I have been all consumed with the genealogy research for my upcoming project. Since I have been well enough to do so, it really is all I have done. I am obsessed. It is like a very frustrating puzzle, two steps forward and six steps back but I am getting somewhere slowly but surely.

I have researched and learned so much about several branches of my family tracing us back to England and Ireland and yet the toughest nut to crack is of course the Scottish connection which is quite ironic since that is the lineage I chose to follow for my project and trip. I know the link is there, it is just finding the proof that I need to feel comfortable with it all. I am determined to get there.

It has been a fascinating experience even with the frustrations. I have learned so much about the common emigration and migratory patterns from Scotland, North Carolina, Tennessee to Arkansas. I have learned how much Scottish culture has been passed on here. I have learned snippets about the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and of course the Civil War as I meander along with my family and the times they lived through. I have learned about the large families and the prevalence of infant mortality. I have learned how connected families become and of towns named after distant relatives and of old country graveyards full of my people. I have seen faces that I have never seen before by finding photographs of my family members on the Internet. I have seen the similarities in facial structures and learned of families of singers, a fiddler and an indentured servant and death along the trail. I have also seen slave names and read countless stories about families that are not even mine but because we share a family name I read on anyway and assimilate their stories. For hours at a time I have been attached to Sirs and Ladies and even a few Barons. The people I have learned about have been the persecuted and the persecutors in familial lines wrapping around each other. Ultimately at the beginning of all these stories there is a boat that takes these people from their homes to this new world that they will fight and die for, all so that I can exist years later to travel back to where they started and make art for their ghosts. If this is just the beginning I can't imagine what it will feel like once the actual work starts.

This is an American story, this is a Southern story and this is an immigrant's story and one that belongs to most of us.

Until next week, keep fighting your fear, your inertia, your doubts and sing your song loudly if not for yourself, then for the ghosts of the past.

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