How It All Began…


About the Author

Heather Feuerhelm

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I have been told I have a better relationship with the dead than with the living. I suppose that is a hazard of being a genealogist.

I am a seventh-generation Larlee (Charles Hubert, Theodore Washington, Daniel McSheffrey, John A., John, John). I grew up hearing about Dr. John and was always interested in his story, but it wasn’t until around 2002 that I really began to do serious research. One day, while browsing the Internet, I stumbled across a genealogy forum about John Larlee and read a post from Jean Larlee (her husband was my dad’s cousin). I emailed her and we traded information. The information she provided was enough to get me started.

Researching the Larlee family has been a fascinating journey that has allowed me to get to know new “cousins” and make new friends. Not only have I learned about family history, I have learned about New Brunswick’s history and I have been enriched by it. The journey continues and the tree grows…
Why I Do This

The best explanation I’ve ever found was in a short essay by Della M. Cummings Wright. It was later re-written by her Grand Daughter, Della JoAnn McGinnis Johnson, and even later edited and reworded by Tom Dunn. It is called the The Story Tellers.

We are the chosen. My feelings are, 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.

To me, 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 told the ancestors you have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who I am and why do I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can’t let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.

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.

It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us.

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 their 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 put flesh on the bones.

And now you know…

– Heather Feuerhelm

P.S. If you would like to know more about me, you are welcome to visit my personal website at www.cathyheather.net.