Would have loved to visit “Benedict’s” on Monument Circle in the early 1900’s for a Neopolitan Ice Cream–probably owned by some 10th cousin 4 times removed

I firmly believe that if people don’t see how and where their personal connection is, they just won’t care. Whether it’s the team you root for, the church you attend, the neighborhood where you live or work…these all have meaning to you because they are part of your life today. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that really, it and we are all connected, wherever you go.

Having brains so constantly overtaxed with the millions of bits of stimuli attacking you faster than the speed of sound, it’s understandable that seemingly obscure connections and deeper meanings take a level of concentration and calm few of us can muster. Quiet contemplation and inner reflection doesn’t seem a natural state anymore. (Maybe the pot smokers would take issue with this assertion?) This is why history is so easy to dismiss as irrelevant–it’s so large, overwhelming and detailed that it can overload your system. Before tv’s, radios, cars and computers people had plenty of time to contemplate their family tree, to read, write, to ponder–but not so much so today.

So here’s a simple exercise to help you connect to the past: look at old signs, old ads, old city directories, old photos, maps, street signs and the like and look for your surname. Chances are when you see your surname somewhere, you notice it anyway. When you do, do you wonder if you are related to the person who created what you are seeing?And how would that change the way you feel?

I take my own born surname as an example. As a Benedict who hails from a long line of Benedicts who lived in Indiana since the 1830’s, if I see that surname on an old advert, I think I must be related to them somehow, and hence, connected.

Finding these little connections create a stronger sense of grounding, place and security for me. I’d be interested to see if others feel the same way.

As a side note, there are often ‘vanity books,’ that have centuries of records on specific surnames which can help you verify/ determine whether or not you are related to someone from years long past.

Please leave your surname here, and I will keep my eyes peeled for your surname in future adverts from early Indianapolis!