Have you ever created a family tree? In my time as executive director of the Adams County Historical Society, I’ve done quite a few. Typically, you start with those who are alive and trace their family back through time. Eventually, you hit a “dead end,” usually an ancestor of whom little is known.

While attempting to solve these historical puzzles, I’ve often wondered if one day I, too, will become a distant descendant’s “dead end.” Will the details of my life be difficult to determine? Will the names of my parents be “lost” to time? Even if my descendants do learn my name and the basic information about me, birth and death dates, locations of important events in my life, etc., will they really know me? Will they understand who I was, what I stood for, and why my life mattered?

Andrew Dalton is the executive director of the Adams County Historical Society.

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