gmhTODAY 15 gmhToday July Aug 2017 - Page 63

While she believes he may have embellished some for her benefit, she places a great value on these stories of the past. “I think everybody deserves to have their stories told. The people telling their stories get to stay alive in your mind,” she said. Moreover, she feels it’s important to preserve the information of the past, which gets lost when people pass away if it isn’t recorded. “My dad grew up in Alabama and every year they would butcher hogs. Those people knew how to live, how to survive. Now you have people that can’t make their own meal at night.” As someone who grew up on a ranch, she said she has a foot in both past and present ways of doing things. “I cook, I garden, I know how to do stuff,” adding with a chuckle, “I’m waiting for the apocalypse.” She fears this basic survival knowledge is slipping away. “I think it’s important that we not only revere our ancestors but realize what they knew that we don’t know now.” For more than thirty years, she has made a good effort to do just that. Most of her ancestors hail from England, Ireland, Scotland, Greece and Canada. Her family has been in California for a long time, with five generations having graduated from Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, beginning with her grandmother and extending to her grand children. Genealogy has not only helped her fill in answers to pieces of her direct lineage, but missing parts of her ancestry for other family members. Thanks to her research she learned about a Canadian ancestor who lived in the 1840s named Neil Raney. He had angered his mother Mary by refusing to move his family back to take care of her after the death of his father, so his mother wrote him out of the family Bible. “History says he married and he died.” No one believed he’d had any children, and Larton had to produce documents that she’d unearthed for third and fourth cousins that proved he did. Even more personally, though, her research helped facilitate a reconnection. A cousin on her Greek side, Richard Agaliotis, had not seen his father since 1952 due to conflicts between them. By giving them each other’s contact information, they eventually began speaking on the phone, and then eventually met up in person at a christening in New York. “They mended their relationship just because I was interested in finding out my genealogy,” she said. For her the pursuit of her genealogy has been more than a hobby. “When you look at your family history, you’re involved.” She feels that genealogy could be a “more vibrant way” to teach people history because of the way it opens very personal doors. For her, these doors have literally opened to cousins in Oregon, on the Craig side of the family, with whom she stays in regular contact and visits, or hosts when they come to visit. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN In addition to her personal research, she has created a Facebook page she hopes more people will visit called “Morgan Hill Genealogy” where people can come and tell sto- ries. “I’m a student of history and I enjoy looking backward and seeing what we did.” Janie Knopf: Carrying on a Family Legacy Genealogy is often a hobby passed down from an older relative, which is the case for Janie Knopf, a well-known Morgan Hill community leader and volunteer, who with her husband Roger, has called Morgan Hill home since the 1960s. When Knopf isn’t busy with her family or numerous volunteer positions for such organizations as the Morgan Hill Historical Society, Leadership Morgan Hill, and Rotary Club of Morgan Hill, she carries on her grandmother’s early efforts at family history. “My grandmother did it all by snail mail. She had to write people individually,” she said. Her grandmother had family members drive her around Pennsylvania and elsewhere to photograph the headstones of family names at cemeteries. Her grandmother’s work bore fruit, as their ancestry can be traced back to William the Conqueror in 1066, signatories of the Magna Carte in 1215, passengers on the Mayflower, and the Daughters of the American Revolution, to name a few. Her grandmother’s little papers, hand-typed on thin onion skin paper now take up residency in a file cabinet, and Knopf uses Family Tree Maker software to compile it into a neat narrative of births and deaths. Though she hasn’t turned up any earthshaking scandals, she did discover two minor ones. “A Lady Jane Temperly from Scotland was disowned by her father for marrying the gardener,” she said. There is also an unproven but compelling possibility that ۙHو\ܙX] Yܘ[]\\Hܘ[]\و[ܚ[HX\\\\Y]BZH܈\\KSKUQT M™Z^KB