Monday, October 06, 2008

Genealogy Bail Out

The world of genealogy has been a little slow lately. It seems like there has been no major industry news to pass along in the past two weeks. Maybe everyone is too worried about their money and not so much their ancestors. I have actually spent the past two weeks running around the state looking for some ancestral graves along the Virginia/North Carolina border. I did not let high gas price slow me down. I got a hot tip about where to find a grave of one of my ancestors so I had to go.

I am probably an exception to the rule. A lot of genealogy buffs are retired and cannot afford much of a "genealogy budget." I am fortunate enough to be young, working and my wife and I have great jobs. We have two children and a reasonable amount of "expendable" income. We do not have enough to throw away but we do have enough for me to spend some on genealogy excursions. One of us would probably have to lose our jobs for me to really slow down. (Even then I probably would not have to quit all together.) She understands my passion for this hobby and it would take a lot for her to ask me to give it up.

Continuing from above, with the help of cousin Ed Coleman I was able to track down the grave of our ancestor, Creed Thomas Haskins. Creed lived in Palmer's Spring of Mecklenburg County but was buried in Warren County, North Carolina. The church he attended was across the state line and only a few miles from his home. I never would have checked there if it were not for Ed and some critical information that he had been told about the grave location. There turned out to be an entire family plot there with two of Creed's children, in-laws, grandchildren, etc. It was a great find (and well worth the $38.00 in gas money!)

Getting back on topic, I would like to know how the current economic conditions have really influenced the amount of time and money you spend on genealogy. Please click on the comments link for this article and let me know your thoughts. Do you feel that we are in a short skid or is this going to be long-term? Are we going to end up in soup lines and get to/have to experience what our ancestors did during the Great Depression? I know that sounds extreme but it could happen, anything is possible.

I personally think a lot of the panic is self-induced and fueled by negative media. I am not one with much sympathy for the big banks and lending intuitions that helped get us here. I do however understand that perhaps we should do something, ie a bail out. I am a Republican but I have to say that I agreed with something Barack Obama said the other day. He described the Wall Street bailout as something along these lines...

"If your neighbor’s house is burning, you’re not gonna spend a whole lot of time saying ‘well, that guy was always irresponsible. He always left the stove on. He always was smoking in bed.' All those things may be true, but his house could end up affecting your house. We’ve got to make sure that we put the fire out and then go start making sure that these folks stop leaving the stove on.”

That resonated with me and made sense to me.

I do not claim to be an expert on the situation but I am faithful that the situation will work out. I learned this lesson many years ago with baseball cards. People get too affixed with price guides and what a card was "worth" in the Beckett (a trade publication). I never fell for that because I knew that a card was only worth what someone was willing to pay you for it. Everything in the world is like that and, if things get "over valued" by its owners, the market will correct itself.

I am personally just sitting back, rolling with the punches. My 401-K is tanking but I have time to ride it out. I feel sorry for those people in retirement who have to live on that money, who HAVE to take it out in such a devalued state. I know that a lot of my readers probably fall into that category so you have my thoughts and prayers.

1 comment:

tina in virginia said...

Kevin,

What a great post and I love the quote at the bottom. I am new to genealogy and love that it is a fairly inexpensive hobby. My library has a great genealogy section and researching online is pretty much free so the biggest expense to me is my time. As my stock portfolio has plummeted 75%, I have found genealogy to be sort of an "escape" and in some ways, a reality check. Reading about ancestors who state their possessions in terms of cups, plates and a goat really makes me think life just isn't so grim!