I Used to Hate the Begats but Now I Love Them


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.