I Used to Hate the Begats but Now I Love Them

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Descendants of Fred Johnson, Jr. & Ora Lee Johnson

This picture was taken in August following the funeral of my mother-in-law, Ora Lee Johnson.  These are most of her children, some of her grandchildren and a few of her great-grandchildren.  It is a modern representation of the Johnson’s begats.

I was raised by my god-parents, extremely God fearing people and both were church trustees.  Needless to say, I was always in church:  Sunday School, Sunday Morning Service, HYPBC (Holy Young People’s Bible Class), Sunday Evening Services and mid-week Bible study.  Every now and then we studied what was my least favorite Bible passage: the begats.  I hated to read the begats.

An incomplete list of begats from Genesis 5  (KJV)

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;

 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:

 And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos:

And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:

And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.

And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan:

And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:

And Cainan lived seventy years and begat Mahalaleel:

And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:

 And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.

 And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared:

And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:

This list goes on and on and on!

This long list of people whose names were incredibly hard to pronounce was terribly intimidating.  Truth be told, when I didn’t have to read aloud, I skipped the entire section of begats.  I couldn’t figure out why it was important to know whose daddy was whose and why it was important to know all these people.  Little did I know that decades later my time would be consumed with my own list of begats:  ancestors who came before me and my parents.  I want to know who begat them, who they begat, where they lived and something about their lives.

If I could turn back time, I would have asked more questions of my mother and uncles; especially my Uncle Owen.  Uncle Owen,  mom’s half brother, was 30 years older than my mother.  He would have known more about my mother’s paternal line.  Unfortunately, that was a missed opportunity that can’t be reclaimed.  Mom is still living and her mind is pretty sharp but she has forgotten a lot of things; and there are a lot of things she never knew.  She’s been as helpful as she can but she doesn’t understand what the fuss is all about.

These days I spend most of my money on two things:  my grandson and genealogy.  Internet subscriptions, books, pedigree charts, ancestry charts, workshops, conferences and travel – these are the items that fill my expense list.  All of this to feed my curiosity of my family’s begats.

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6 thoughts on “I Used to Hate the Begats but Now I Love Them

  1. What a wonderful picture you have of the family. I am just sorry that it had to be taken at a funeral instead of a family reunion. I have tried to get my much smaller family together for a picture but with no luck.

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    • Thanks for your comment. It would have been nice to have a picture from a family reunion but neither my husband’s nor my family has ever had one. I will be attending my first family reunion from my paternal grandmother’s family next year.

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  2. Thanks Valerie for this post on the Johnson family “begats”. On the one hand, I have always been interested in knowing about my ancestry line, yet on the other hand, I have been too lazy to do any research. I have always thought it would be boring. So this is inspiring to me, and hopeflully one day, I will get busy and excited about it. I also hope and pray that we can have a Johnson family reunion, and that the next picture that we all take together will be one surrounding a joyful occasion. Thanks Aunt Val!

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  3. Excellent Blog Valerie! I’m with you on the Begat scriptures. At some point I forget who begat who and it felt sooo longgg to read! Lol However your blog makes total sense and I too am so curious about many things in our family. I dont have a clear understanding of the Johnson/Cooke family tree. At one point I thought one of my brothers was doing the research and now that years have passed and family members have died I’m not feeling confident that research will be completed. I’ve often had the desire to do my own research on where we as a family actually started but it seems like it takes a lot of time which I honestly just havent taken the time to start..nor did I know where to begin. I’ve heard Big mama was part Indian then it was switched to it was Big Daddy that was part Indian..confused…then I’d heard moms dad was from Haiti, Etc…so for me I’m just not sure where to start since non of my grandparents or parents are no longer with us. Hopefully one day I will actually find out where the roots of our family began and maybe one day can meet some of our bloodline relatives. Thank you for writing this great Blog and I’m grateful to have you as my Sister-in-law!

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    • Bert, don’t keep putting it off. I started in 2012 and I thought that was really late considering I was 60 years old. However, when I went to my first workshop – Genealogy 101 – most of the attendees were my age and older and some of them hadn’t started yet.

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