“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.” (Chinese proverb)
Picture: headstone of my father, Ralph Lane Mendenhall.
September 10, 1944- September 27, 2007.
Lately, it seems I have so many irons in the fire. Sometimes, this is a good thing. Other times, it’s a bad thing. I have to say for this season of my life it’s a good thing.
In 1997, I accidentally began researching my family history. I say accidentally because I had not considered doing genealogy. Rather, I fell into the process while randomly wasting time online one evening. Yes, good old boredom. One night I was up rather late — I’ll preface this comment with the fact I’m always up late, I don’t tend to sleep at night much. If at all. Anyhow, I was up late one night mindlessly playing on the computer while waiting for a good opportunity to call my father at the Serve Co gas station where he worked the graveyard shift before I went to bed. Running out of things to look up and learn about, I found myself for kicks and grins, inputting my surname MENDENHALL into the search engine. Honestly, I don’t recall which search engine- this was pre- Google days.
Imagine my surprise when I found this website dedicated to the name MENDENHALL. Now, the site had my attention. Within the site itself was a search engine for folks to research individual names. Okay, so I knew nothing about my father’s paternal line. I mean nothing. Oh, I had my grandfather’s name but that was literally all I knew. I don’t know that I ever saw my granddad but perhaps once or twice if at all, as a child. Also, he passed away when I was eight years old so memories prior to that were at best, sketchy.
I opened the search page within the Mendenhall family site and input my paternal grandfather’s name, Eber Orlindo Mendenhall, not really expecting to find anything. Expectations are funny things though. They never are quite right. But digress. I was happily and pleasantly surprised to find that Granddaddy Eber’s name was in the search engine. I was even more surprised to find his father, Guy Ciscero Mendenhall. This was a name I had only heard once, perhaps twice in my life.
My real excitement happened when I clicked Great Grandpa Guy’s name. I then learned my Great Grandmother’s name was Patricia Alice Mitchell, and she was from Moore County, NC. That night turned into a very long one which in turn, brought about many more long nights as I clicked on each name connected to early generations from the past. Names I had never heard.
It was then and there, that I began my now twenty-four year journey into researching my family history and developing a real desire to become an accredited professional genealogist. This blog, will chronicle that journey as well as the side trips I’ve taken into archival preservation and paper crafting, all in an attempt to restore the stories of my ancestors. I hope you enjoy my stories.