The ties that bind? RAMifications 9-18-13

Posted September 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm

The ties that bind?

I’m always somewhat surprised when I’m asked my “pedigree,” meaning who around this neck o’ the woods is a relative of mine. I never realized until I’ve lived here that it really mattered to anyone.


Ruth A. Moller

Granted, I was born in southeastern Hand County, and I attended high school in Wessington. But the people who I was related to are either long gone from this world, or are “far gone” from Hand County. And I was, too, for many years.

So it surprised me when, not long ago, a gentleman who had lived in Miller many years ago, asked me my name…then who I was related to…then my maiden name. I told him I had taken back my maiden name, so he again tried to figure out relationships.

I told him my last name is spelled differently from others who might have the same “sound” of the name. He still was really trying to figure out where I “came” from. “Your family didn’t come up from Texas, did they?” he quizzed.

I have pretty much my entire family history in genealogical format on the computer, so I know where I came from; I just don’t know why it should matter to anybody else.

To set the record straight: my dad’s parents, his sister and two brothers, as well as Dad and his young wife all came up to the Wessington area around 1918 from Nebraska (not Texas), but not all at the same time. The house my Moller grandparents built still stands and is still occupied—just across the line into Beadle County. The house my dad built also stands, but nobody lives there, so I seldom drive by it. None of the above-mentioned people are alive, and none of their children, grandchildren or other sundry relatives live in Hand County (except me, now).

I have many relatives, and quite a few live in the Huron area (many of the younger ones I’d not know, except to recognize a name). But then again, many others are scattered throughout the U.S., including my own kids.

When I was growing up, most people I knew had an idea of some of our family connections because they were neighbors, acquaintances or in some way related. But none of those “connections” are still around.

For a great many years, wherever I lived, beginning at college and all the places since then, I never was asked who I might be related to because, of course, there was no frame of reference.

And it’s never occurred to me to ask anyone else who they might be related to.

Perhaps I’m just not inquisitive. If I meet someone and we get to know one another a bit, I may ask about their background, in general. But I prefer to get to know the person on his/her own merits, rather than hearing a recital of their family tree.

I realize being asked “who” I am—by a complete stranger—is not earth-shaking, but it’s something I’ve come across only since I moved back to Hand County.

An old neighbor and shirt-tail relative from my growing-up years used to stop into the Press office now and then, and he’d announce, “I bet I know more about your family than you do.”

You know, he was probably right.