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I am very lucky to have have had my great grandmother Jennie Ressler Fetterman in my life for sixteen years and my grandmother Marie Catherine Fetterman Patterson for twenty-four. I have also been blessed to have many aunts and uncles, great aunts and great uncles, and so very many cousins. Until Jennie's death in March 1967, I had never experienced the personal loss of a family member. While I did not attend her funeral, I was there when my grandmother passed away, and her funeral was attended by over 110 descendants.

I remember taking my mother Naomi to visit my aunt Mary Jane Patterson over the Memorial Day holiday in 1979. During that four-day visit, one of our car rides was to Centralia and of course the cemeteries. I remember thinking at the time, “Why on earth would anyone want to go trekking through a cemetery and spend all of their time looking at each and every gravestone”? I must also mention that it seemed that almost every gravestone we looked at that day had the name “Fetterman” engraved on it.

I guess I just took it for granted that all of my family would always be here. In the last few years, I have wondered more and more about my ancestors and what their lives were like—what hardships they endured as well as their accomplishments. I started to ask questions that I never had asked when I was young, and my aunt and mother have been generous in trying to share with me the stories they knew and grew up with. I didn't realize it at the time, but between my aunt Lois Patterson Tomek and my cousin Donna and a few other cousins, I was slowly being drawn into finding out more about my “roots.” It also helped that I had considerable knowledge of the Internet and have been able to help my aunt with her genealogy research. I consider genealogy to be not so much of a hobby as a time-consuming passion.

The pages contained here are devoted to our fellow family genealogists as they trace their roots and will contain as much factual information as possible. If you have any information you would like to share in this endeavor, please feel free to contact me. My only criteria for posting your submissions is that the information you submit is not copyrighted and permission be given to post pictures. Pictures should contain complete information as possible in regards to the persons photographed, location, year, etc. If you want to submit a certificate, be sure that there are no restrictions on the certificate. If you have any questions, please contact me.

I received an email from my cousin, Donna Patterson Clancy, in July 2002 and saved it for a “special occasion.” It is appropriate to relate the story now, and so I share it here.

The Story Tellers.....

We are the chosen. My feelings are in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before.

We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as it were by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: “Tell our story.” So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.

How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, "You have a wonderful family. You would be proud of us"?

How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen.

The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.

That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.

That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

(Author Unknown)