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Fresh Start

I have examined the term Fresh Start from multiple perspectives and they all pretty much look the same:  to start anew, to embark, to strike out, to commence, to get moving, to plunge.  But, as I change lenses, I see that I can apply them differently.  Let me explain.

This is my fresh start as I pause from examining names, dates, places and relationships and begin to tell the stories that surround those names and places. What was happening in the world that influenced their lives?  How did their everyday existence change over time?  What caused them to make the decisions they did?  What is the history?  Or, are they history in the making?

What started as two parents and four grandparents mushroomed into hundreds of grandparents.  Each one reflected in me in some way.  The names, dates, places and relationships will continue to grow as will the stories surrounding each individual.  It becomes a "NeverEnding Story".

Examining my twenty-five year old brick wall is where I realized that I had to start anew.  It seemed that there were no records accessible that linked my third great grandfather, Conrad Stiffey, to his parents.While repeating the same research time and time again, I became frustrated with my inability to find and document that connected to the next generation.  I decided that I was the problem.  I needed to approach my research differently.  I needed to increase my skills to research like a professional.

That led me to coursework.  Within that process, I examined every document, email and scrap of paper that I had about the Steffey/Stiffey family.  I recorded it.  I made charts, spreadsheets, chronologies, locality guides, posed questions, examined documents, and analyzed as I had never done before; and there it was, in front of me, the evidence that I needed to make the connection to Jacob Stiffey, my fourth great grandfather.  It was through that process that I realized I had learned so much of their story that I had to determine how I was going to share it.  It was a story that begged to be told.

Then I considered my parents who in 1955 sold everything they owned and left Pennsylvania embarking on a cross-country journey to California with two small children in the backseat.  That is another kind of fresh start.

Looking closely at the family I believe that there are instances where each family group or individual has experienced a time when they were faced with having to make some type of fresh start.  In telling their stories my goal is to understand the reasons for the decisions that they made and share those reasons in the context of history.



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