What you’re looking at is a picture of my great-great-great-great paternal grandfather Edward Hopkin’s tombstone, located near Neath or Margam, Glamorganshire in Wales.

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Based on my research so far, he and his wife lived in the area their entire lives, never venturing outside the area, during the first half of the 19th century.

Written at the bottom of their tombstone are the words: "ni cheir hi er aur periag ni ellir fwyso fi cwerth hi o arian."

I’ve very recently become enthralled with looking into the past, specifically through the lens of the genealogy of my family.

It is, perhaps, an interesting hobby to take up for someone who is professionally obsessed with the future, and perhaps even doubly interesting for someone who is adopted, and thus not genetically tied to their known ancestors (as perhaps most genealogical researchers are).

I’ll leave aside the very interesting technological discussions one could have about the nature of big data and what it is that the digital archiving seeks to do in the modern age (and trust me, there’s a very interesting structured v. unstructured data exposition to be had there). I’ll save that for another time.

What is particularly fascinating to me, at least at this moment, is the wormhole in time that technology has allowed me to hear the last words of one of my ancestors (mind you an ancestor of no great particular historical import, in the grand scheme of things): "The value of my wife cannot be measured in riches nor gold."

It’s not what most would call the most earth-shattering sentiment ever expressed by an individual, but given the gulf of space and time between Edward Hopkin and Mark Hopkins, I can’t help but marvel at it just a little that a sentiment of morality, personality, and emotion made it from him to me.