My name is History. I am immortal. I am the chronicler of all that has come before your existence. I will write your name in my book when you pass, and you shall become immortal.
Our ancestors are immortal because we, their descendants, have chosen to keep them alive in our hearts and minds. To acknowledge them, to remember them, to know who they were, what they achieved, what they sacrificed, how they lived and how they died, is in a large sense, immortality. Let it be written then, for future generations, the history of our family.
The PalimpsestIn early times, a palimpsest (PAL’/imp/sest/) was a parchment or other material from which one or more writings had been erased to give room for later records. But the erasures were not always complete, and so it became the fascinating task of scholars not only to translate the later records but also to reconstruct the original writings by deciphering the dim fragments of letters partly erased and partly covered by subsequent texts. The genealogist in many ways accomplishes the same thing. Trying to decipher all the bits and pieces (dim fragments) of information is many times just as formidable a task as the palimpsest. This has been my endeavor for more than a decade now. Taking bits and pieces of family information and history, deciphering it and fitting it together like a giant puzzle. True genealogy is more than recording mere names and dates of the birth and death of our ancestors. As well as facts, it is also preserving family legends, myths and folklore. At the turn of the 21st century, the journey for which I was about to embark was unfathomable. I began a fantastic journey into the unknown with new discoveries at nearly every turn, and became immersed in the rich history of our wonderful family.
We are an old American family. We have been here for more than 250 years, and longer than the United States of America has been a Free and Independent Nation. Our Derry and Allied Derry families (Rexroat’s and Weidenhamer’s), fought for the right to be free; prevailed a long and bloody war and begat a new nation. I am profoundly moved by the courage of those who came before us. We are that posterity the preamble of our Constitution spoke of. We are bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh and I am proud to be their son.
Telling the family story is as old as man’s existence itself. “To put flesh on their bones and make them live again.” I feel somehow that our grandfathers and our grandmothers know and approve. Their stories, legends, folklore and myths abound and ordinary kin like you and me tells them. We are the storytellers. Who will be the next storyteller in the tribe? “All tribes have one.” Let no member of this family ever again forget the courage, the achievements and the sacrifices our forefathers and foremothers endured. For my family, my children and my grandchildren, I leave behind this legacy of the true Derry family story, and so it is written. It is up to the next generation to preserve and continue this family legacy. Who will it be? Will it be you?
These are the people that legends are made of. This is our heritage, and these are their stories...
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In memory of my parents, Gerald Francis Sr. (1899-1962) and Irma Mae nee Domm Derry (1916-1998), my brother, Gerald Francis (Frank) Derry II (1944 – 1971), and my daughter, Dorsey Janine Derry (1974 – 1975).