Why would anyone want to compile a book like this? Where does one start such an enormous task as recording for history the lineage of a family? What driving force is it that brings to fruition the original inspiration? All good questions, asked by many these past years.
As one goes through the daily routines of life; reading books, newspapers and magazines; watching movies and television, traveling about our world seeing signs or thumbing a phone book here and there, one notices names similar to their own. Conversations with friends sometimes include the statement, "I know someone with your name." The thought crosses most of our minds; I wonder, could we be related? Such a question, while only an internal thought, inspired the original quest for more knowledge. Thus motivated, more thoughts developed. Do others occasionally feel this way? Why not record that which is found so other family members could share in this new information.
A little research here and a little there, a few notes made to assist the memory. Soon the whole thought explodes into many bits and pieces of slightly connected data. There is only one obvious solution to this confusion - organize; place these tidbits into some meaningful form. It then becomes necessary to connect the pieces to fill in the picture, or perhaps it would be correct to say the puzzle.
Where do you look for the missing pieces? You soon learn it is necessary to visit or correspond with the oldest members of the family; for in the minds of these people lie the answers you seek. When do you start? Yesterday! For last night a big piece of the data died with it's only owner. Once this unexpected event interrupts your search, urgency becomes a driving force. Get the information before it is too late. The spark that started with just a momentary thought is now a full-blown conflagration. You are in over your head, but you must do it now, you must get it done!! You must eat while the meal is before you with an insatiable obsession to devour every morsel. You record, you organize, you research, you question, you rewrite, you reorganize, you type, you retype, you recheck and you print.
The end result of many hours of research, hundreds of letters, and thousands of miles of travel brought together the information for the first book on our family. Printed in 1963 under the title, "Caleb Sheldon Aylesworth, His Descendants," the book was distributed to most of the family members and many of the major libraries across the country. After publication more and more letters are received. Here and there a date is thought to be in error, a name left out, some misspelled by a letter or two. Not to be at all discriminatory, my own parents each had an 'e' left out of their first names. Was I embarrassed? Now would you have been? You note these tardy points in the file and in your copy of the book.
Years pass. The original thought now quiet, the book is done, you did your best, everyone is pleased, until! Letters come informing of new events in the family, newspapers announce them. There are weddings, births, deaths and tales. You note each in your copy of the book and place the date in the file. Before long there are many notes along the margin on page after page. Then, about 1976 when the nation is celebrating it's Bicentennial, that old spark begins to grow into a noticeable flame. A revision of the book really is needed. Members of the family are asking when will a new book be put out bringing the old one up to date? What would you do? Should you do it all over again? Well, ok, most of the data must be in the file, so you start. You find big gaps.
Returning to the mails for answers it is soon found that most of those hard working helpers on the first book are gone. Of those that remain, only a few are able to still correspond and get out to gather the new data needed. New addresses are obtained, younger members of the family are pressed into taking over the task of filling in forms, digging into old records, searching memories and asking questions of those nearby. The material comes flowing in slowly and you get some thoughts of why bother. More addresses are supplied and more requests for data sent out. The volume begins to improve and inspiration builds once again. Requests come in also. "Would you include more information on my grandparents?" & "What about including the story about great grand dad?" "What do you know about the many families that married into ours years ago?" And the hardest one of all to answer, "Where did our family originate from in Europe?"
Those of you that asked all those questions are responsible for delaying this book about three years. Now; I don't say that to place blame but instead to give credit and appreciation. Those questions, partly answered, make this book much more interesting, more complete and a great deal larger. We all thank you for your interest.
Well over 30,000 miles were traveled to get new information. Over a hundred Court Houses and Town Clerk's Offices were visited to verify dates and search old records, seek out more ancestors and establish relationships. Cemeteries were the answers too much more data. They were walked through in the early morning dew before the local offices were open, to find dates and names of the spouses of those gone. Many libraries were the source of supporting data and local information. Visits were made to many relatives and friends to complete forms and get to know them better.
The subject of this book, his wife, and her father were found in unmarked graves with the help of a very kind Sexton, a matter that truly needed attention and has since been corrected.
The kindness, enthusiasm, friendliness and warm generous hospitality received on the many trips were overwhelming. In almost every place visited the people went out of their way to be sure that all of the data available was provided. Probably the most important point learned in all of this research is not between the covers of this book. My only way of sharing even a minuscule bit of this point is to here relate for the record and say: This country is covered with many really nice people that I wish each of you could have enjoyed meeting and developed friendships with.
My most sincere thanks, and I'm sure the enduring appreciation of all, goes to those that gave so much of themselves to make this book possible.
To borrow from myself; I feel the last paragraph of the preface of the first book should be repeated.
"It has been a most rewarding experience to compile this record." And I urge you all to, "Become acquainted with these many new friends and interesting facts about this most wonderful family, ------ OURS!"
May I offer a worthy German motto to live by:
"Wahrhaftigkeit, liebe und verstandnis gegen freund und feind."
("Truthful, loving and understanding towards friends and foes.")