I Am Discovering My Ancestry

I have started working on my family tree at Ancestry.com.  This is something I have talked much about doing and thanks to some help and encouragement from Stephen, I have take the leap.

My family tree is a black box to me.  I know practically nothing about any of my ancestors that died before I was born.  This is mostly due to the fact that my parents divorced when I was two years old so I never had much time to discuss such thing with my father. What little I know about my father’s side of the family came from the little information that my mother told me and snippets here and there from my father throughout the years.  I know my paternal grandfather’s name was William Elmer Horne. I know where he’s buried (in a cemetery just north of Byron, GA).  Prior to my research I did not know his parents’ names. I have since discovered that his father was John Benjamin Horn (yes, without the “E”). And John B.’s father was Joshua Lawrence James Horn.  His father was Joshua Lawrence Horn.  The cool thing is I was not purposefully named after either of them. However despite these interesting early discoveries I have a lot of research to do.  I will begin with my father’s oldest sister. I figured she would know and remember the most about my late grandfather and his parents.

I do not know why but this is something that is very important to me. I almost feel as though I am like an orphan in the world.  I do not feel anchored to anything.  I have this need to know I am part of a legacy. Even if I just come from a long line of hardworking farmers who never did anything exciting or very important, I still need to know where I came from.  I believe this is vital for me in order to become what God wants me to be.  This will probably all sound silly or like I am blowing its importance out of proportion, to women particularly, and maybe even to a few men. But knowing one’s forefathers matters a great deal to a man.  I can not really say why that is. I suppose it is because a man’s father (or father figure) is the one he usually imitates most. It’s a kind of masculine point of reference.

I have had somewhat of a fear about the whole affair as well.  This may really sound silly to you. There is a part of me that is afraid of finding out something…shameful. I don’t know of anything and I have no rational reason to fear such a thing, but I think it would be heartbreaking to find out that my great-great-great-great grandfather was a murderer, or a fraud, or a hit man for the Mafia.  Ok, that last one would be kind of cool (in a macabre sort of way).  Nonetheless do you see what I am getting at?

Anyway, as I am writing this I am listening to an audio production of Doyle’s “The Hound of the
Baskervilles” and a statement was made by one of its characters which seems strangely relevant to this topic:

Learn then from this story not to fear the fruits of the past but rather to be circumspect in the future that those foul passions whereby our family has suffered so grievously may not again be loosed to our undoing.

On the other hand I may find out that my great-great-great-great grandfather was a valiant war hero who gave up his life to save his men in a great battle.  And maybe his father was a doctor that rescued an entire community from a dreaded illness. And perhaps his father was a great evangelist mightily used by God.  Yeah, I am thinking big.  Of course I do not really expect any of those three scenarios.  I really only expect to find out that my lineage is one of average joes who eked out regular existences and simply worked hard and passed on.  That would be ok too for that’s the sort of guy I am.  However it would still be awesome to be the descendant of an American colonist who fought under General Washington or a charitable businessman who used his means to further the Kingdom of God.  All of that remains to be seen.

This whole endeavor has sparked another interest in me and that is journaling.  Now I keep a Bible study journal in which I write down thoughts about passages I read or I write out prayer however I am talking here about a personal journal.  Actually what will probably end up happening is that my Bible study journal will sort of morph into a personal journal.  The reason I have decided this is that I may be able to find out much about my ancestors’ names and professions but little else. I will never be able to get inside their heads unless they themselves wrote something down. However the grandfathers I have uncovered so far have been poor farmers and probably were not writers.  But I plan on setting down in writing any information about myself that future Hornes may want to know.  I will not only include biographical information but also information about my conversion to Christ, lessons I have learned through life and scripture, warnings, blessings, prayers, and stories.  I am essentially the last male with the Horne name. Also I am the only Christian with that name.  My desire is that God will use the work He has done in me to change the reputation, the character, and the ministry of the Horne family throughout future generations of my family.  Behind me there have been farmers, average joes.  That is ok.  But after me I hope to see missionaries, pastors, Godly statesmen, ethical businessmen, world changers.  And I want to have a hand in shaping future generations, even those who may be born after I have died.  This is the reason for the journaling I am starting to do.  And my hope is that I will pass the tradition on to my sons.  I will encourage them to journal for the sake of their children’s children so that hopeful, in a hundred years, the Hornes will have a veritable library of their family’s history—manuscripts, notebooks, diaries, and books full of photos, stories, and biographies. I do not want it to be said by any of my children “My family tree is a black box to me.”

Josh H.

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