Genealogy and Bearers of the Family Torch

What is it that drives a personal passion to willingly take on the role of “ancestry keeper of the light”?

Not every person bears an interest to engage in researching family history. Not everyone feels a sense of responsibility to carry forward one’s known ancestry for personal motives or dedicated to toiling for the benefit of future generations.

Only some willingly step up and become the “light keepers” of one’s family stories, ancestry and family tree. What is it that drives a passion to perform what it takes to act in the role of ancestral “keeper of the light”?

An insight is provided by the book: Eat Love Pray as author Elizabet Gilbert highlights and honors a person whose life is inspired to play the role of what she calls, “a codega.” A Codega is a person who willingly carries forward an illuminating light, and in this act of selfless caring for others, generosity offers a favorable pathway extended for others to follow.

Elisabeth Gilbert values the kind of person willing to be a torch bearer enabling another to move forward aided by a selfless person committed to light the way.

In my own family I have taken the lead in order to deliberately leave behind a cohesive ancestry legacy and written record of family history. I am gladly playing the role of a, “codega”

For now, I am keeper of the light for future generations who might at some point discern an interest and perhaps even pick up the torch, perhaps add to family history, and light the way forward for others ahead.

My Story of Carrying Forward the KallgrenWittenstrom Family Torch- The Basic Process

Several years ago My wife and I set out to collect all available family photos. I labeled what I could and dated them and provided captions. The photo collections sets were copied and placed in three ring binders. Three sets were made and distributed to each of our children.

Next, I began a comprehensive search of records, family tree research and produced over 100 pages of research notes. These notes are bound as an ongoing working library of resources.

Next, I set out to write narratives that connect and share stories linked to photos and archives. The hope was to possibly organize a publishable volume.

In the Fall of 2020, with the assistance of an army of helpers, a completed book summarizes the photos, archives, stories, recollections in a self published book. My Maja A Grandson’s Tribute by KDP Amazon Books. I was a self described, “accomplished light bearer .” (If only for my family, but even imagining the book might serve to be illuminating to others.)

Published by KDP Amazon books 2020

In addition, to completing the family history project book and components for now, additionally, two ancestral pilgrimage photo albums document family history travel in 2004 and 2016.

My vision of a ancestral codega or bearer of the family history light

Personal Rationale for Embracing the role of “Keeper of the Family History Torch or Light”

After all of my grandparents, parents, direct Swedish descendants with knowledge of family history passed from this life it became apparent that someone needed to step up to the honor and task of creating a comprehensive written record.

The idea of a creating a cohesive assembly of our proud family history was compelling. It called for a leader to volunteer and be determined and disciplined to organize and put in the effort.

Serving in the US Army during basic combat training I was appointed as the “guide on bearer”. The designated soldier carrying forth the emblem identifying the unit and soldiers. It was an honor.

Not long after my army basic training in 1969, my Grandmother died. In the sadness and memorializing experiences, I became convinced that her family history needed to be properly gathered. I became determined to pursue the means for “passing on the light”,- on behalf of future generations. I reasoned that if the job was to be completed and family history was not to be lost, I would need to rise up to confront the task. I accepted the role of becoming what Elizabeth Gilbert called, “a codega”, specifically, an ancestral bearer of the light kind of codega.


During army basic training I was selected to carry the company colors, the flag called the guide-on.
The guideon bearer took the lead and ran ahead when the 90 men crossed a road, a kind of safety patrol. After all passed safely the guideon ran to the front again carrying the “colors”. Historically in battle an emblem is carried to lead. It was an honor with responsibility. To this day I recall a kind of remnant duty to lead important aspects of my life with pride.

Logical Reasons To Focus on Preserving Family History?

What do others say about stepping up to be keepers of the light??

“Our desire to preserve memories and memorabilia of the past is anything but logical. How can having our great-grandfather’s shaving kit help us in the era of monthly shave club subscriptions?

What can a candid photo of our grandmother, or an audio recording that captures the lilt of her voice when she teases our grandpa do in a world of Snapchats and tweets?

In short, how can a tangible yet essentially useless artifact benefit us in an increasingly virtual world?”

“While the desire to preserve isn’t logical by nature, the logical reason for preserving history is that history promotes nostalgia, and nostalgia is good for us, our families, and our communities. Nostalgia is important and strengthening—an antidote to the stresses of today that is, as it turns out, easy to bottle. “

“There are close ties between nostalgia and the preservation of cultural heritage. Cultural heritage is made up of the stories, artifacts, and places that define a culture. Nostalgia prompts us to preserve our cultural heritage and our cultural heritage promotes a sense of nostalgia

Before It is Too Late?

“It was a sense of nostalgia brought on by artifacts that motivated me to become a conservator and preservation specialist. In 1994, a slow leak from a water heater created a minor disaster in an adjacent closet. That closet is where I stored three cardboard boxes filled with 28 years of my personal memoirs. Those boxes absorbed the water and all my memoirs were severely damaged. As I sat there on the floor staring at wet documents, bleeding ink, mold, and disfigured photographs, my heart ached for what I had lost. Once I got myself through the five stages of grief, I asked two questions. “How can I repair these things?” and “How can I prevent this from happening again?” Then I asked a third question. “How can I help others prevent this from happening?”

According to Mary Beth Sammons in her book, Ancestry Quest How Stories From the Past Can Heal the Future.

“In the end, our ancestry research is a gift to ourselves, our families,and generations to come. We honor our ancestor’s stories when they teach us about healing, loving, and living.”


We step up holding the light given to us by our forbearers and journey forward as a way to light the way for ourselves first, and some rare individuals will surely become motivated with conviction lighting an ancestral history pathway for others to follow.

Published by Donnie: An Admiring Grandson

Living an inspired life modeled after my Grandma Maja, who stepped up as a Swedish immigrant widow and mom of 3, facing America’s Great Depression while demonstrating uncommon grit and valor. I am determined to share her life lessons so she is no longer forgotten. I have a book to share and the reader will preview the entire story by visiting here. You are most welcome.

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