My kids looking at the San Jacinto Monument from the Battleship Texas.
So, did y'all go to any genealogical society meetings this week? I did. I met up with Amy Coffin from the We Tree Genealogy Blog and her son at the monthly Chaparral Genealogical Society meeting in Tomball, Texas, on Saturday where very good coffee & donut holes from Shipley's were served.
And even though this genealogical society had me at coffee and Shipley's donut holes, I still would have shown up for Robert L. Schaadt's presentation on one of my very favorite subjects, the Battle of San Jacinto. I don't know why this decisive moment of strength and courage that determined a desperate people's desire to be free captures my attention. I mean, why do I go back again and again to this battleground? Why do I drag my kids to the theater and museum there? Why do I insist on riding the elevator up to the top floor so I can take photos of the same views from the observation deck over and over?
Perhaps it's because my parents are San Antonians and it was always, Alamo, Alamo, Alamo with a splash of Goliad and a sprinkle of Gonzales thrown in for good measure. I'll agree that the Battle of the Alamo makes a great story that has bred many a Texas legend, but if you're the competitive sort like myself, 2 facts remain. We lost at the Alamo and we won on the battlegrounds of San Jacinto. As with all great victories, what was achieved could not have taken place without the great losses that came before, but why, at least in my head, is it that the Alamo gets all the attention and soundbites?
One thing I have noticed, though, is that here in the Houston area, my kids [and subsequently I] have learned more about Sam Houston and the Battle of San Jacinto than I ever learned growing up in the Rio Grande Valley in the household of two San Antonians. Gasp and horror, right? I mean, surely I didn't get taught a different view point of Texas history just because of my location. Right? Right? [Wink.]
Anywho, Mr. Schaadt's presentation was captivating. If you ever get the chance to see him present anything, take it. He tells one heck of a good story. He's the former Director-Archivist of the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, Texas, and currently is the archivist and feature writer for South Liberty County's oldest continuous news source since 1887, The Vindicator, which publishes online daily and publishes a print edition on Thursdays. [Love that they're online.]
And now you're probably saying, "But Caroline, this is a genealogical society. That's history. Where's the genealogy?" Well, yes, we did talk a lot about history. But I distinctly remember Mr. Schaadt talking about his grandfather. And there was definitely a member who told us all about his great-uncle who was one of the soldiers who captured Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón. [Love his full name. And, wow, there's genealogy in that name.]. Yet another member talked about her ties to the infamous Rev. John Wesley Hardin. And then the member next to me mentioned how it had always been passed down in his family that his ancestor had fought in the Battle of San Jacinto, but that he'd actually been one of the sick soldiers left back in Harrisburg.
Therefore, we were talking genealogy. It just wasn't hiding behind phrases like pedigree charts and family group sheets. And we weren't interrupting with, "Now, where are your sources?" or "Let me see your citations." While there's a time and place for that, it wasn't there on that day, at least not by itself. The genealogy was carefully and lovingly wrapped up in history and family history. I dare say, if I'd been new to genealogy or family history, had come to my first genealogical society meeting and been presented with the "This is genealogy, this is a pedigree chart, and you have to do it this way" presentation, I don't know if I'd been back. So sue me. I like a good story. My dad was such a good storyteller, and if I close my eyes I can still hear him tell me about the Battle of the Alamo. He was so good, I'm still on the edge of my seat listening and waiting for his next word.
Plus? Shipley's is just down the street from the Amegy Bank in Tomball where we meet. And it has coffee and a drive thru. And the pedigree charts, family group sheets, and the citation rules I can get online.
Sure, I can read a great story online [and there are many out there] about ancestors. However, online, I can't sit in a roomful of descendants talking about their great and sometimes infamous ancestors and just, in general, shootin' the bull Texas-style about the Battle of San Jacinto while snacking on coffee and donuts with the former Director-Archivist of the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center.
And even though our society President, Mary Williams, made me [the one who is so much better writing than speaking] go up to the podium and talk into the microphone in front of everyone about the 5 JustaJoy.com free 1-year memberships that Joy had given me at the FGS 2011 Conference to gift to the Chaparral Genealogical Society, all in all, I had a blast. [And? Hello!?! I did mention the coffee and Shipley's donut holes, right?]