The study of family history and genealogy is an
exceptionally fulfilling and rewarding endeavor. One acquires a sense
of gratitude towards our progenitors and a realization of the
significance and purpose in our lives. Reflection on our heritage
also prompts us to focus on answers to the four great questions of life: Who am I?, Where did I come from?, Why am I here? and Where
am I going when I die?
Familiarization with one’s family ancestry produces a
realization that our heritage extends markedly beyond the isolated memories of our
parents and grandparents. The Fertig-Fertich-Ferdig family ancestors
came from a different land, in a different culture, in a different age.
There were many reasons to come to this newly formed land of freedom.
Some came to escape the chains of tyrants and gain religious and
economic freedom. Others came to this country to simply enjoy the good
land, good laws and good order of this Constitutional Republic, in which
our rights are unalienable and granted to us by our Creator.
Reflection on genealogy also produces the realization
that our lives have both design and purpose. We are alive today as
a result of the countless decisions and actions of our procreators,
which have occurred for thousands of years. It would have only
taken one minor decision to be wrong, and our birth would not have
transpired. The providence of Almighty God is unfolding before our
eyes. The Lord is fashioning the hearts of men and women to work
all things after the counsel of His will, including His perfect plan for
our individual lives.
"all things were
created by him, and for him: (17) And he is before all things, and by
him all things consist." - Colossians
Study of our predecessors also helps us to
think and act generationally. Our earthly lives
will come and go quickly. We can preserve our values and beliefs
only if we plant them in the heart of our future generations. Just
one person can impact countless other individuals in this life and the
life to come.
In addition, we are
reminded of the
utter brevity of our earthly lives and the certainty of
our death. Our lives on earth are so very brief, compared to the
time frame of eternity. Earthly life is going, going and
almost gone. Our lives are merely a dash between two dates, which
will be etched in our tombstone. All that we get on this earth is a
dash of time. “Whereas ye know
not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a
vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
- James 4:14
Our German born relative, John Joseph Fertig, maintained an
eternal perspective, setting his affection on things above. In 1907, nearing the final moments of his earthly life,
John Joseph put it this way “As you count time you may call me "old;"
but 'tis but the minutest fraction of eternity!”.
The length of eternity is a very difficult concept to
grasp. The following illustration may prove helpful: A bird picks up a
grain of sand in his beak and flies at bird speed to the sun, 93 million
miles away. The bird drops off the grain of sand and flies back to
earth. In the length of time that it takes the bird to fly each and
every grain of sand from the earth to the sun, one grain at a time per
trip, eternity will have just begun.
This book is especially written to pay tribute and honor to the lives of
our progenitors, whom God has assigned as His special agents to
shepherd and instruct us in the ways of life. As we explore the lives of
may we also examine
ourselves and reflect upon the memories we will leave behind for others.
“But the mercy of
the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and
his righteousness unto children's children;”
- Psalms 103:17