Most people have a natural desire to know who and where they come from. It is for this reason that many adopted children seek out their biological parents at some point in their life. For others, they become interested in more than just their most direct ancestor, such as their mother and father. They want to know who their parents came from and who their grandparents came from. Searching through family history and studying your family’s genealogy is fascinating and informative for many.
A difficult project
When I was in high school, we were given an assignment to investigate our family’s history as far back as we could. Unfortunately, my father is unknown so I couldn’t trace that side of my family. To make things even more difficult, I found out that my grandfather’s grandfather (my great-great-grandfather) had been adopted and back in those days, adoptions were closed. There were no records of who the biological parents were and adopted children never knew where they came from.
Finally, I called my maternal grandmother hoping that she may know at least a little bit about her side of the family. She was my last hope and if she couldn’t provide me with any information, then I wouldn’t have anything beyond a couple generations before me. My maternal grandmother pulled through for me in a way I never expected.
An envelope of history
My maternal grandmother seemed really excited when I asked her about our family history. As it would turn out, she was very interested in genealogy and had been researching our family’s history for a few years. My grandmother sent me a large envelope with a very thick stack of papers detailing the lives of countless members of our family tree.
It took me many hours over the course of many days to read through the papers my grandmother had sent me, but when I got toward the bottom of the stack, I found out something about my family history that I never expected; my grandfather, ten generations back, signed the Declaration of Independence.
I had always known my grandmother’s maiden name was Rutledge but I never paid much attention in history class and I never knew that a Rutledge had been involved with the Declaration of Independence. My grandfather, Edward Rutledge, a politician in South Carolina, had been the youngest person to sign the Declaration of Independence. Edward Rutledge had not only signed the Declaration of Independence but had played an important role in the decision of the United States to declare independence and become a separate nation from England. He had also been captured in war and held prisoner by the British. He was married twice and later appointed governor before dying at the age of 50. My grandfather was laid to rest in the cemetery of St. Philips Episcopal Church.