My grandfather was the family historian, or at least the closest thing we had. He felt passionate about being a Moffett and being Scottish American.Many, many of my memories of him revolve around Scottish-ness and family heritage in some way. Whether it was his array of tie pins shaped like the Moffett family crest, heading out to the Scottish Walk in Old Town Alexandria, sharing stories about people he corresponded with “in the Clan” or just drinking Scotch it all meant a lot to him. While I never pursued the history much myself, I always enjoyed hearing my Grandpa talk about it. So when he passed in 2006 it really left a void in my life.
I was already working in libraries when he passed away. I used it as an excuse to start playing around with some of the resources I had easy access to, mostly the public library versions of Ancestry and Heritage Quest. I also looked at the family trees posted to the Moffat Clan Genealogy site. While helpful, the librarian in me questioned the lack of citations and, quite frankly, doubted the accuracy of some of the things listed for my own family line. It was all a bit overwhelming, though, and I never wrote anything down. I felt alone in the research and didn’t really know what to do with any of it.
And then, one day, my Dad handed me this suitcase.
“Here,” he said, “I think this would be better off in your hands than mine.”
Granted, he and his wife were getting ready to move to a new house and eager to unload things. But he could have simply tossed it away and I am so glad he didn’t.
I opened up the suitcase and found a treasure trove. Newspaper clippings, photographs, funeral announcements, random bits of ephemera and even my Grandpa’s own stab at a family tree. He even had some letters from other members of the family hoping to help in the research by sharing their own stories and including what they knew to be true about the family. There was so much material, but not really in any order whatsoever.
Maybe it’s the smell of old paper, maybe it’s seeing things written in his own hand. But gong through that suitcase, even still, maks me feel closer to my Grandpa. Everytime I make a new discovery there’s a small part of me that hopes he knows what I’ve discovered or verified.
The posts here will cover what I’ve already learned and, hopefully, help me collect some of the pieces together in a different way. My brain tends to crave a narrative and piecing things together in this way should really help me deepen my understanding about my particular line of Moffetts.