A historian is nothing more than a great jigsaw puzzle enthusiast. What I mean by that is every person in our community is given a puzzle piece. Some people lose theirs, others give theirs away or collect more, some move away and take their piece with them, and some die and are buried with their puzzle piece so that no one can have it. The historian is the one who tries to get as many puzzle pieces from as many people and then fit the ones together that he can, always striving to see what the bigger picture is. No matter how much time and research is spent, the historian will never complete the picture; there will always be missing pieces that leave it to the imagination to fill in the voids.
Does that make the historian’s work wasted? Not at all. It’s the joy that comes from the labor. I remember as a child my family acquired an old wooden puzzle in a box. We had no idea what the picture looked like and we didn’t even know if all the pieces were there. As a family we spent about three days putting that puzzle together. It was the best puzzle I ever remember putting together because all the pieces were unique. There were pieces shaped like a boot, a key, a dog, a man and woman’s head, and various other shapes. When we were finished there were maybe half a dozen pieces missing. Was that disappointing? I don’t think so. We had a beautiful scene of flowers and trees and I think there was a cottage and maybe geese in there too. Perhaps we were unable to complete it, but it was a very satisfactory experience regardless.