The Kinfolk


 It is not down in any map; True places never are. ~ Herman Melville

Like many others, my kinfolk and I have employed various ways to attempt to know who we are: some of us have traveled in search of our ancestral roots; one cousin has made extraordinary strides to unravel the strands of our genealogy; he and I have both undergone genographic testing to determine our matrilineal and patrilineal haplogroups. Yet none has entirely provided what we have been searching for. Though we know the important facts about many of our ancestors – the dates and places of their births, deaths, marriages and voyages, etc – our most exciting discoveries have been those that have provided the details that make their lives resonate with our own.

These are the details contained in photos – particularly those where at least one of us notices that a family resemblance is unmistakeable, or where someone has scribbled on the back ‘ Papa, Uncle Midge and me 1909’. They are the also the details held with in the stories told to us by our elders. My Uncle told me such a story: his great-grandfather’s favorite word was ‘salubrious’ and with this fact my great-great-grandfather, who I never knew suddenly became a real, flesh and blood relation to me. I can imagine him and imagine us liking each other, delighting in words together. Knowing about my great-great grandfather not only helps me make sense of aspects of myself, but makes me feel grounded in a story that stretches out behind and in front of me. My great-grandfather loved words; I love words; my son loves words, too.

kin·folk are defined as a group of people who descend from a common ancestor; are of the same family or closely related families; or are people who are related by blood.

Thus, the Kinfolk represented within this website are related through the convergence of two families in Malden, Massachusetts in the early 20th century and encompasses 3 generations of descendants and their spouses. We are the elders of our family and we stand in a midpoint between the past and the future, holding what remains of our family history.

It is incumbent on us to see that the stories are preserved and passed on. We have stories to tell and details to pass forward that, someday, our descendants may be thrilled to hear and to know.

Melville, Herman. 2008 [1851]. Moby Dick. Tony Tanner, editor, 49. Oxford: Oxford University Press.