There is so much more to a family than the begats. Our ancestors lived and breathed and toiled and carved out an existence that defined them. Why did your great grandfather come to America in 1863? Why did he settle in Kansas in 1871? My great grandfather, William Frank (Johann Andreas Wilhelm to be exact) left Germany for the United States in 1854. I don’t know why he left but I do know that he settled first in Marseilles, Ohio, and was a musician in the Civil War, and then homesteaded in Kansas in 1869. I have letters he wrote to his brothers and sisters while in the War and after arriving in Kansas. A person emerges, not a genealogy, not a history, but a real person. This is what family history is about, this is what we can leave to our children.
Don’t delay, ask all the questions you can think of of your elders. Gather all the papers, documents, Bibles, quilts, samplers, letters, pictures that you can. Take pictures, record histories. Talk to family members. Preserve your past, once it’s gone, it’s gone – unless you decide to record it for posterity.