Why I pursue genealogy
As a small child I was told by my mother and other family members that every Cessna (my maiden name) in the United States was related and we all came from Count Jean De Cessna who was a Huguenot originally from France. This was always a wonder to me. Even when I met my husband-to-be he asked me, in our first conversation, whether I was related to the Cessna airplane people. I stated "yes, but not close enough to have any of the money", which prompted a laugh.
When my daughter was in the fourth grade one of her school projects was to do a family tree and to go back as many generations as possible. So we began what has now become a ten year adventure of going back as far as we could tracing the family roots.
When we initially began we were surprised about how much we didn't know about our family heritage. Our resources were living family members. We gleaned as much information from them as we could, contacting even those great aunts from whom we only received Christmas cards from each year.
Our next quest was to verify the information that we had received. Doing so we have proven many family stories to be inaccurate such as the one that said my great grandfather McDonell was killed in a train accident when he actually died in a Tuberculosis Sanitarium.
We have approached this task with much love and respect, ever cautious that what we find is a part of who we are and how we connect to the the history of our family and country, wanting to preserve it for our future generations so that they may know who we are when we are no longer present to share our stories.
Sarah and I have researched families over and over again as new resources become available. We utilize the Internet for the rich wealth of knowledge yet we always verify to assure that the information is correct. One of the most fun things has been the newspaper articles that are now available on line. They give us a glimpse into the lives of the people we know, for example, Frieda (Weidig) Sutor. She belonged to a bridge club whose meetings were reported upon weekly in the "The Times Recorder" Zanesville, Ohio newspaper.
This same newspaper documented many things about J. Hope Sutor stating that in 1906 he owned, along with other capitalists, 15,000 acres of land near the Shoshone Reservation in Wyoming. One of the businesses established there was an automobile dealership. We wonder what ever happened to that land?
This type of research adds depth and character to our family as we are able to get to know a little about someone who died years before our births. Our search has also led to getting to know distant relatives that we never knew about and amazingly enough the family connection establishes friendships that hopefully will continue to grow.
Oh, by the way, through years of research I have found how I am related to Count Jean De Cessna. After about 7 years of digging, guess what? I'm not sure he was a Count. He did come from France but that is where we are now with the search and I do believe that all Cessna's in the United States are related to one another.
Here are three photos.
The one of J. Hope Sutor is from his book published in 1905, no clue when photo taken.
The one of Ralph L Sutor is from the early 1920's.
The one of Ralph W. Sutor was taken during WWII.
Also attached is the essay written by my daughter for her college applications.
Life Lessons From Genealogy
By Sarah A. Sutor
In her book, Cane River, Lalita Tademy says, “Getting to know each one of them has made me stronger.” Researching my own family tree would only confirm this quote for me. When I began researching my family tree in fourth grade, I did not see that it would change the way I lived my life. The only thing that I saw was that this was a way to spend time with my mother. Initially, I did not find genealogy interesting. I only saw genealogy as a process of recording names, dates, and locations. Then one day, I was looking at old family photos. Some were so old that they were tin types dated 1842. For the first time, I finally realized that these people were my family, and I felt a deep connection to them. Some of these people had died over a century before I was born and yet we were inextricably connected. Looking at my family history, I guess I should not be surprised that I fell in love with genealogy. My great grandmother Myrtle also had a passion for genealogy. My great, great grandfather John Sutor was a local historian and writer. Genealogy was part of my heritage. I suppose with my family history, genealogy was destiny whether I knew it or not.
I never expected I would learn lessons from genealogy. If I had thought about this harder, I would have realized that this was a naive assumption. We study history in an attempt to learn from our past successes and failures. History is made by people, and genealogy is the history of one’s family. I learned that life lessons were taught not only by the distinguished but also by ordinary people. Admittedly, when I learned that I could trace my family back to European feudal kings, I suddenly understood my family’s tendency toward leadership and stubbornness. The most powerful lessons, though, came from my ancestors who came to this county. They came to this country as Puritans and Huguenots looking for religious freedom. They came from war torn countries looking for peace. They came from destitution looking for a piece of land they could call their own. These are the traits that have been passed down through the generations in my family: the strength of faith that would make a person leave a comfortable life for one of uncertainty and hardship, the kind of faith that a French count would forsake his home and title to become a Pennsylvania farmer, the strength to persevere even when there was no hope in sight, the loyalty to their home and country that has caused my family to fight in every single American war, even before America was America, and the love that needed no other answer than, “Where you will go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Wherever you die I will die, and there be buried.” I have learned as much from as much from the ancestor that signed the Declaration of Independence as I have learned from the ancestor who weathered the winter in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Each individual has taught me a lesson that had forever changed how I view the world.
Stepping back from the individual details of each person’s life there must be some unifying message that is being sent. In the book The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, he says, “The wisdom of ages . . . whispering up from the chasms of the earth.” My ancestors seemed to be trying to tell me something by the way they lived their lives.