New Appalachian Moments Blog Post by Scott Ballard
Think about someone in your family (history) that you are the closest to or feel the strongest connection with. Got it? Who is it? As we get older and understand those folks better…we see their wisdom, sense their humanity, we often desire to learn more and more about them. And our connection to them grows.
My strongest family connection is to my Great Grandfather Dr. Robert Lee Kincaid. However, I never knew him. He passed away 5 years before I was born. Among his many accomplishments and titles (University President, Author, Entrepreneur, Editor, Lincoln Scholar), I think he would he would identify most with the moniker: Historian. And here’s what historians know: how history works! Sounds redundant, but ironically, I am talking about thinking FORWARD.
A student of history like Dr. Kincaid knew that the work he or she does, and the words they craft, their chronicles are not only from the shoulders of past historians but written for the distant days to come. Historians uniquely understand that they are a cog in wheel rolling into the continuum of future connecting us all with the past. (Connections to the past: 4 Generations at right, my Great Grandfather Kincaid with his daughter Pat, his mother Jinny and grandmother Byrd around 100 years ago)
My Great-Grandfather didn’t know me, but he had to anticipate that I would be out there somewhere down the family line along with a small legion of others, who would read his books, read his letters and build upon his work.
With his words, he painted lively pictures in his reflections of his early childhood, subsistence farming in the red clay hills of Northeast Georgia. When I return to MY roots in Eastern Kentucky, I have noticed that when I stand on that ground, put my feet down and walk the streets of my old hometown, the earth feels different under my shoes…different than anywhere else. Familiar ground is not a figurative or literary concept, it’s a REALITY! Upon noticing that distinct feeling, it made me want to walk HIS ground, walk that old farm in Union County, Georgia and just let the sensation envelop me. (I alluded to this last week)
I began looking at maps, ok fine, it was Google Earth, to tentatively plan my trip. Maybe sometime next year. Then there was a TWIST to the story!
During an early June visit to my mother’s house, she brought out some old photos of me. Handing them to me, she said, “I just found these.”
I didn’t know who I was standing with, but I recognized where I was. I was standing beside the memorial gravestone of Jinny and Jim Kincaid…my Great Grandfather Kincaid’s parents, in UNION COUNTY, GEORGIA along with two of Great Grandad Kincaid’s brothers and one of his nephews! What?!! How?
Mom said, “I know who you are with, but I don’t remember you going to Georgia from Kentucky! It was SURREAL. I don’t need to GO to Georgia, I need to go BACK!
I had already been there and didn’t even know it. Granted I was only 4 years old. But you talk about PRIMING, you talk about déjà vu, there it is! To be continued at a later date when I finally get there to walk that ground!
Please feel free to share your strongest family connection or déjà vu experiences in the comments section below and thanks for liking and sharing this post so that more folks can see it!