16 January 2019

Eye of the Tiger

All evening long I've had the song "Eye of the Tiger" stuck in my head. You know the one. First  Rocky Balboa does a lot of sparring with Apollo Creed to the strains of "It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight..." and the next thing you know he's standing on a beach hugging Apollo while thrusting his fist into the air in triumph for having successfully beaten his friend in a race.

With all due respect to the band Survivor, I often think that last lyric should be changed to "the thrill of the chase" because, as genealogists, so much of what we do is all about the chase...about the journey.  After all, isn't that why we come to programs such as the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in the first place? To take classes that will give us the tools and resources we need for the hunt?  Sure, the chance to network is equally as valuable and pleasurable as doing serious research, but at the end of the day we're all still hunters--fighters--striving to rise "up to the challenge of our rival" (aka our brick walls) as we "stalk [our] prey in the night." Otherwise, why do what we do?

Tonight I had the opportunity to stalk some prey of my own in the form of a Kentucky land grant for my 5th great-grandfather, a document that was previously unknown to me. However, an energetic series of lectures today from the amazing D. Joshua Taylor, during which he introduced us all to the assorted pathways and waterways by which our ancestors migrated to the Midwest, gave me tools for a much-needed breakthrough. After introducing the migration paths to us, Josh then gave us the opportunity to go back through our sources and build a timeline for one of our family groups to help us to identify the pathway this set of ancestors might have taken.  While I can't yet be sure, I think it highly likely that my 5th great-grandfather's family came straight across the National Road, especially considering they lived at several stops along that pathway. This revelation alone would have been a thrilling enough discovery for any given day, but that knowledge, combined with the new sources introduced earlier in the morning, also ultimately led me to an index of Kentucky land grants. Conveniently for me, the FHL has a copy of the index in their holdings.

Thanks to D. Joshua Taylor, I now have a shiny new digital copy of an 1821 land warrant for that very grandfather. Had I not been so tired this evening, I guarantee that not only would there have been Rocky-style fist pumps in the air, raucous singing and embarrassing dancing in the snow would also have no doubt ensued. On the plus side, my inevitable crash and burn onto the slippery sidewalks would have created brand new record sets for future genealogists to stalk.

I do so love what we do. There is nothing more thrilling or gratifying than that moment when we locate an elusive record to fill in yet another piece of the puzzle of our lives. Each success, however small, is like finding the Holy Grail all over again. If I'm going to use "Eye of the Tiger as a random analogy, I guess that would make SLIG our collective Apollo Creed, supporting us and teaching us and pushing us to succeed and to surpass.

I may not have gotten around to performing my Rocky salute, but I can at least raise a glass to the amazing staff and faculty at SLIG for helping us all be "up to the challenge of our rival."

Here's to superlative SLIGs and successful quests, not to mention 37-year-old rock songs.
(Photo credit: Abby Peart-Camarato, ©2019)

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