Ever since I was a small child, I wondered if my family had famous people in it. In the years before the internet was a thing, I was certain it wasn't true because the surname "Seebeck" is very rare- there are less than 20 instances in Alberta.
As I grew older, I began to search for famous Seebecks- with a little bit of luck. Thomas Johann Seebeck is a famous scientist who first wrote about the thermoelectric effect- sometimes called the "Seebeck Effect." I won't explain the effect, partly because I don't fully understand it and partly because I haven't yet proved a connection between Thomas and myself. I still hold out hope that one day I will be able to do this.
In my Temple and Family History work, I have found many people considered famous but none named Seebeck. I have been sorely tempted to give up and resign the Seebeck name to the many other family names that are considered common and unworthy of praise.
But, as we all should do more often, I truly listened to the stories my father was telling me as we drove by his old family farm a few years ago.
The farm, founded by my grandfather in the 1930s sits on the west side of a river valley east of Carmangay- not far from Sundial Butte. The valley is bisected by Highway 522. To the north is the homestead of my grandparents. The farmhouse (a one story bungalow with a green roof) is perched on the foot of the coulees and looks over a quaint little creek- that meanders through the low-lying fields- keeping the valley green through the hot summers. South of the highway is the old farm of my dad's aunt and uncle. On the land you can still see old teepee rings from when the First Nations travelled the area.
As we slowed to look over the land, dad pointed back up the coulee behind his old home and told me of a huge open gravel pit. Companies have been digging there for years and extracting vast amounts of gravel. Since the land belonged to my family, the pit was named after us.
It finally clicked in my mind that my family is famous! Sure, it isn't royal, political, athletic, celebrity or even influence famous but it is local famous. The mining is still going on and from time to time there are social events that happen there. It is kind of fun knowing that my name is connected to a specific piece of land used by hundreds every year.
With this knowledge, there comes a great responsibility. It is incumbent on me to share what I have learned about my family and also search for more stories to share. It is often said we keep the past generations alive by remembering their stories. I can definitely feel close to my family that has passed on before when I learn and recount their stories. My great hope is that we can all learn and share family stories so our ancestors are not names on a page, but become our friends.
Image from Google Maps