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I am 77 years old and have been researching my family tree since the 1970's on a limited basis and full time since 2006.

My ancestors are:

Paternal - Yadkin County, NC - 4 generations: Hutchi(e)ns, Williams, Norman, Wooten, Vestal, Phillips, Martin and Fleming.

Maternal - Stokes County, NC - 4 generations: Rierson, Young, Wall(x2), Allen, Pulliam(x2) and Sullivan.

My paternal ancestors were mostly yeoman farmers, blacksmiths and Quaker ministers, preaching discipline and denial and living the clean, tidy life every day of the week.

My maternal ancestors were also farmers, mechanics and woodwrights, but they would go to the large houses of the Petrees, Tuttles, Kisers, or Browders, play their fiddles and banjos and dance every Saturday night. Then, on Sunday, they chose to attend some of the many Churches of Christ in Stokes County. There, they heard repentance, forgiveness and renewal with communion every week. On Monday, they would start the week anew.

They do say opposites attract.

I have found that I am related to almost everyone whose grandparents are buried in Yadkin or Stokes Counties.

In genealogical language, we are defined in the most basic form by three terms. Our birth date, a dash, and our death date. The most important of these is the dash. The motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, asked us "what will we do with our dash?" Will we be a contributor, a facilitator, a builder, a leader, or a necessary follower?

Will our country be grateful to us, will our community find it hard to replace us if we move on, will our family lean on us for support? Will a Google search find us or will we care for the needs of others when no one is watching? The Confederate general, Albert Pike, once wrote: "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal".

Will we be missed by many at the end of our dash? What will we do with our dash?

I am a retired medical school professor. Research was my profession and is now also my hobby.

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