I have never been much interested in genealogy.  Too many men become

fanatical in their pride of ancestry, so that too much reliance is placed on past

history and not enough on current accomplishment.  Families have gloried in their

lineage to such an extent that all vigor has vanished, and the scions of a once

noble race have become synonymous with inefficiency and worthlessness.  Finally,

once proud family names have become badges of disesteem, having lost all semblance

of virility.  The truth is that the blood lines and transmissible qualities become

so weakened and mixed in the course of time that one cannot claim justly to be

akin to his remote ancestors.  And yet some knowledge of one's ancestors should

be acquired as far back as his grandfather, because it is well to know that as far

back as the memory of man extends, the family name has been honorable, and

that patriotism, force and success have been distinguishing marks of recent

generations.  A family in which no leadership, no culture, no religion and no force

of character has appeared is indeed bankrupt.  An unbroken line of ne'er-do-well

"hewers of wood and drawers of water", without ambition or remarkable

accomplishment, is not conducive to pride or individual emulation. It is true that

there appears to be such a thing as inheritance of qualities from remote ancestors--

atavism, it is called--yet it cannot be certainly determined in the case of man

how much influence is exerted on character by environment.  And herein lies the

value of one's ancestry.  Energy, culture, successful effort may not be transmissible,

but the activities of the past may be such that the same qualities re-appear in

successive generations, from habit and long training.  The effect of environment

cannot be estimated nor can the influence of generations of training to accomplish

particular objects.  The distinction between pure inheritance by blood strain and

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Madison Peyton Howell, Jr. Electronic Book
Colleton County SCGenWeb