#Thread Ever since visiting Beallsville and my partner's Civil War ancestor's grave, I've been pondering what *my* family has lost, in known history, because of the Genocide.
My partner has taken me to many, many cemeteries around western PA, some of them dating to the 18th century, and been able to point them out as ancestors.

That's kind of incredible, to me.
The top of this thread has a picture of the restored interior of the St. Giragos church of Diyarbakir, in Turkey. My Bakkalian ancestors helped build that church. But past my great-grandfather's generation, I can't tell you what their names were, or where they're buried.
Same goes for pretty much every part of my family. The furthest back I can trace by name is one pair of great-great-grandparents-- so, roughly mid-to-late 19th century.

My partner can name, with certainty, her 18th century ancestors; I've visited the graves of several of them.
It's my honor to help the woman I love better understand the history of her ancestors, especially their military history. It's my honor that, by choice, I am family too.

But when I think of my own ancestors, I'm sad that I can't extend my own ancestors the same recognition.
We historians study things like war and genocide in very broad terms, sometimes. But this is one of the subtler things that it does, many generations out, along with intergenerational trauma.

Genocide destroys names, memories, stories.
And so here I am, a brown woman in diaspora a century later, trying to piece together bits and pieces between sources available via the internet-- which only go so far-- and the stories I heard growing up.
I can't point to names in surviving documents. I can't point to old stones in mossy cemeteries-- because the Genocide didn't just kill over a million of us, but also because in the century since, Turkish nationalism has encouraged the destruction of any surviving cemeteries.
I have stories, sure. And my childhood attentiveness to elderly relatives, my head for remembering stories, and my research, has been fruitful: it turns out I have 8 centuries' worth of oral tradition, there.
I've learned that my Bakkalian ancestors were originally something called Shamsi- a minority secretive about its beliefs, who were not quite Armenian, Assyrian, Kurdish, or anything else. I know that they were Christianized by being sold (yes, sold) to the Assyrian Church.
But I can't name anyone by name.

And I just have to live with the fact that because some very powerful men decided that any non-Turks had to be destroyed, 100 years ago, that that action destroyed records and buildings, too, and there's some things I'm never going to get to know
So it's bittersweet, to visit the old cemeteries where my partner's brave ancestors lie in honored repose. I can't help but think her fortunate.

And, I think it comes down to this:

I must be my ancestors' living legacy.

Image credit, courtesy Wikimedia Commons: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%D5%…
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