I’ve always been envious of those stories about people who find a dusty family bible in the attic and somehow manage to discover some genealogical secret through such means. My files were handed to me in crisp yellow envelopes which had been more or less ignored for a few years.

Until last night…

My mother and I were searching through the whole house in an attempt to find a small green box. This box contains information pertinent to our impending trip to Scotland. Yes, your favorite Troglodyte is once again leaving her high, mountain cave to take to the nomadic winds once more. We didn’t find the box. In other news, if you see a small green box, please contact me. Thanks.

However, while I was knee deep in a closet, my mother calls out “I found a folder with genealogy stuff in it!”

“Cool!” I call back, hardly thinking too much about it. See, I had well-exceeded all of the printed information bequeathed to me, and, in my pride, I assumed that there would be very little, if anything, that I did not know in said file.

“It says someone was born in Inverary,” she called back. “And we’re going to be quite close to there, so that’s neat.”

And I dropped what I was doing and ran. I knew of someone born in Inverary in my family tree, but no way, no how was that info in anything printed. No, no, no! That was information I had dug for with my bare hands, a solid ten generations past paper. I immediately started spreading out the file on my parents’ bed, tucking my bare feet under me to make more room for the unfolding genealogical treasure trove which had just come to me. “Here it is! Campbell!” I knew there were a few Campbells in my family tree, but I had not traced the line back beyond a question mark in the 1800s.

This was a direct line back to Scotland… four generations earlier than anything else I had – and back to an actual clan name 17 generations earlier than any other proven links. Back to /the/ clan.


I dashed to my ‘Tartans of Scotland’ book and flipped open to the ‘C’s. Motto, plant, location, plaid – it was all there. Another link in my history, another set of cultural norms and rules and areas of research. We’ll be traveling through Argyll, so I’ll get to see the lands of my forefathers – and I’ll know they were the lands of my forefathers. It is a different sort of experience, I think.

And, if I’m being perfectly frank with everyone, I think the Campbell clan would approve of this genealogical hobby of mine.

After all, our motto is, “Ne Obliviscaris” – Forget Not.


Here’s to finding treasure in dusty file folders!