Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

“We Are the Storytellers, Called by Our Ancestors”


“We are the storytellers– called by our ancestors.

 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.

Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers 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 walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh.

 How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us.” 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 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.

With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are. 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 my 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 restore the memory –or greet those whom we had never known before.” Author Unknown
While many of you may have seen this writing, author unfortunately unknown, I have only read it recently.  As a person who has been telling family stories for years, this message speaks to me.  It also reminds me of so many of you whom I have come to know.  You, the genealogy bloggers, the researchers, the family reunioners, the bedtime story tellers about great grandpa folks, you are the Storytellers of your family, and  I know how valuable you are, how much it will be appreciated in years to come, how much I appreciate others who left stories and information for me to find.  

This poem inspired me to get back to blogging, and to start 2017 with enthusiasm and renewed energy.  Looking forward to being in touch with you all again.  I am also wishing you the very best in 2017!  


Author: Helen Holshouser

Old enough to enjoy life, I am a Red Hatter, grandmother, gardener, and amateur genealogist. I am a retired clinical psychologist, master's level, who is disabled with heart disease, but having fun with family and friends. Married over 40 years, I have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. I have learned that grandchildren provide a joy one never knew existed---writing feeds my soul, gardening is therapy, and genealogy research makes me feel like a detective!

14 thoughts on ““We Are the Storytellers, Called by Our Ancestors”

  1. Another year, another opportunity to bring organization to the boxes of family memorabilia saved from my parents’ last home. The rest of the living didn’t want the physical “burden of clutter.” Thank goodness for my two cousins who feel like I do…if it was important to my ancestors, I will honor and bless their memories by keeping their momentos. My cousin and I both had to sort our parents things this year. She said, “I don’t want to move anything, it all feels sacred.” Amen, cousin.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen indeed– it gives me chills! Isn’t it wonderful and amazing to have friends and family who also feel the call! Thanks so much for sharing Nancy W. Miller


  3. Welcome back, Helen. Looking forward to your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Cathy Meder-Dempsey! You are a dear friend to stand by when I’ve been so absent! Thanks for the support!


  5. Happy New Year, Helen!!!! Welcome back. Hope this year brings breakthroughs, insights, health, prosperity and lots of good blog posts.


  6. Thank you Aquila! So happy to see you again! Thanks for saying hi and the warm welcome! Happy New Year to you also, and always wishing you the best1 Helen


  7. I have never seen this either but it does a great job of describing why gathering family stories is so compelling and rewarding. Glad you will be blogging again.


  8. Thanks so much Kakingsbury. I’m glad you liked it also. I am working on a book also and find it hard to balance my efforts. Working on t. 🙂


  9. You have touched upon the very best of what genealogy should be. We help bring to life the people who have by great effort both moved our family forward and our nation. All this done with a few rouges thrown in for some spice. I have read your blogs many times and you are one of the best in telling family stories. You are building a great legacy and your family, and they should be thankful. I know in the future they will be thankful and well educated in their family’s history.


  10. Your comment dear Charles, gives me “chilly bumps” some say, or goose bumps! I agree that this is what we work for, and thank you dearly ! I look forward to being in touch more frequently! Fondly with warmest friendship, Helen


  11. Pingback: “We Are the Storytellers, Called by Our Ancestors” — Heart of a Southern Woman – Voices of Ancestors

  12. I feel that I am the one chosen in my family for this responsibility.


  13. I am so glad! Luanne, your descendants will be so happy that you answered the call! Thanks for sharing! Helen

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I hope somebody will! That has yet to be seen ;).


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