Relatives and Hipster Beards

April 4, 2016 on 6:37 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories | Comments Off on Relatives and Hipster Beards

There seems to be a common line said among those that seek to know their genealogy: Know where you come from, so know where you’re going. That may sound great in that placard, protest-y, sound-bite sort of way but it seems to feel a bit trite to me. I “get” learning from your mistakes and successes, including those of rellies long gone; what has happened, history – but not sure my family history, by virtue of lives lived, has informed where I’m going – or where I’ve gone. My family history has laid the groundwork for circumstance, and maybe that is what that oft-said line is all about. Anyways, I write “not sure” in italics just to say, I’m open to convincing.

It’s been said that as the world grows more crowded and anonymous, tracing where you come from allows us to feel more connected to others – especially folk who share close DNA. The website, for instance, allows people to find distant cousins – and near cousins, for that matter – we never knew existed. This is true. is a global multi-billion dollar enterprise – but why? Why so successful? Why do people care?

Well, according to the website (and they surely do have a biased view): “we live in a society of millions to hundreds of millions of people, most of whom are strangers to us. If all of a sudden you are a fourth cousin of someone, it creates a sense of connectedness that you might not have had before.” And people being people, I guess, gravitate to “connectedness”.
John Ellis and his wife Susan Keys_great great grandfather of MG_nephew of James Ellis your G4 grandfather
And on that, today, this wretched crappy snowy April day, thanks to my mum – and not any online site – I was gifted with a photo I’d never seen: my great-great-grandparents. Look at that beard. And look – a photo from near the middle of the nineteenth century.

At the moment, I don’t know why I love this photo – or why the Old Boy looks like he is trying to set someone on fire with his eyes – but I think it’s pretty cool. In fact, they both seem to have the look of the hipster to them. 🙂


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