Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Master Post: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, 2019

In 2019, I have decided to take on the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge! Every week I will write a post about an ancestor that fits the weekly theme, as explained by the creator of the challenge, Amy Johnson Crow.

In this post I will list all of the themes and ancestors as we go along, so that they can be found easily later on. I will also post them to the Rooted Heritage Genealogy Facebook page (and a few of the other genealogy groups on Facebook), using the hashtag #52Ancestors. I will also include a few "practice posts" from 2018's themes, since I am so anxious to get started. 

It is my hope that other descendants of these ancestors will stumble upon this blog and discover their stories, and be as in awe of where we came from as I am. Happy reading, and wish me luck!

2018 "Practice Posts":

Sunday, December 1, 2019

A Belated Obituary: Christan Elizabeth Whaley, 1989 - 2016

Awhile back I came across a Facebook post from a friend that read:

"Miss you more each day
 Really wish you were here
 Happy early birthday, Sunshine"

Attached to the post was a collage of photos of my friend who wrote the post with Christan Whaley, a girl I had gone to middle school with. We had been in band and several other classes together, and although we were never close friends, we were at least friendly with one another. I hadn't seen her since our freshman year of high school. And I had no idea that she had passed away three years ago.

Christan Elizabeth Whaley in 2016.
I searched for her gravesite on Find A Grave, thinking that I could at least go and pay my respects. When I looked at her profile I found that she was buried in another state, but I also found something that saddened me even further: she didn't have an actual headstone, only a temporary marker provided by the funeral home. I contacted the friend who had written the Facebook post and asked if she knew how to get in touch with the family, because if finances were the issue I would like to help. And then, just when I didn't think the situation could get any sadder, my friend told me that finances weren't the issue at all; in fact, her family was very wealthy (something I had never known).

My friend had never even known where Christan had been buried. Her death had been quietly swept under the rug as much as possible. There had been no obituary, no memorial service (at least, not one that could be attended by anyone but immediate family), no grave marker. It was as if she had simply ceased to exist. From what I understand, the cause of her death was the reason why. But just because someone dies in a way that is unseemly to you does not mean that you can erase the memory of that person from the Earth, and that is why I decided to try remedy this great wrong, and to give Christan the obituary she deserves.

Christan and I weren't the kind of friends who have sleep overs and talk on the phone for hours at a time, but she was the kind of person who would smile, say hello, and ask me how my day had been when few other people would. Middle school is an awkward time for all, and was especially so for me; I had a couple of close friends, but I was also frequently the target of bullying. I was usually wary of anyone who was actually nice to me, always suspicious that it was some kind of joke or trick. But I never felt that way when Christan would talk to me in band class, or said hi as she passed me in the hall, or tell me that she liked my outfit on the rare occasions when I would wear something outside my comfort zone.

I only have a few specific memories of Christan from middle school, but they are good memories. I remember her leading the clarinet section in an arrangement of "Angels We Have Heard on High" at our first ever band concert in the 6th grade. I remember her playing a duet with me out of our beginning band book when we had some spare time in class one day. I remember her talking to me at lunch one time when she saw that I was sitting by myself. But the things that stick out most to me are the little things, like smiling at me when she saw that I was upset about something, or telling me not to let it get me down when people would tease me. Little things like that came easily to her, but they meant the world to a kid like me.

We fell out of touch after she transferred to another school in the 9th grade, and never reconnected. In those days social media was in its infancy, so keeping in touch with someone actually took effort - and sadly, since we were never particularly close, it just never happened. So when I saw the post that spoke of her passing, I was shocked and very saddened. The world is definitely a darker place with her gone.

If anyone who knew Christan better than me would like to contribute to the little glimpse of her life I have provided here, please contact me with what you would like to say and I will add it here. I hope that we can shed light on a beautiful soul that deserves to be remembered with fondness.


Welcome to Rooted Heritage Genealogy! This blog is dedicated to both telling my ancestors' stories and to helping others to do the sam...