ROOTS – Human/Spiritual Ancestry


During my post graduate medical training and four-year residency at the University of Missouri, I developed an interest in learning about my family roots. In 1977 an extremely popular, now famous, TV mini-series aired, based on the book ROOTS by Alex Haley. The series was about slave families in early America and their ancestry. It stimulated an explosion in genealogy research across the nation.

After serving in the Maryland Militia during the Revolutionary War, John Coy, Sr., his son, John Coy, Jr. and their families moved to Kentucky in the early 1790’s. They settled there and lived near the small town of Hodgenville. Interestingly, Hodgenville is the birthplace of President Abraham Lincoln. My part of the family moved to northern Missouri in 1855. I was curious if there might still be family in the area. If some of the family remained in Kentucky, it could mean the family was split in their loyalties during the Civil War.

Wanting to learn more about my Kentucky Coy family, I decided to make the trip to the Hodgenville area over a three-day weekend so I could look for family. It took a day to travel to Hodgenville. When I arrived in the town, I looked for a motel and searched for any Coy listed in the local phone book. I found one listing but decided not to call the number. I was a little apprehensive about what I might find and who I would meet. The next morning I asked for directions at a local gas station and headed off, looking forward to the adventure and the possibility of meeting my Kentucky family.

I drove to the address, pulled into the drive, stopped the car and got out. I walked to the front porch of the home and knocked on the door. I waited with both anticipation and excitement at this chance to meet family and discover more about my roots. The door slowly opened and an elderly gentleman said, “Hello.” As I looked at him, I was amazed. He looked like an identical twin to my uncle Leon Coy. I was convinced we were related. To me it seemed obvious! I had found some of my Kentucky Coy family!

I introduced myself, told him why I was in Hodgenville and began to relate my family story. I explained that my family moved from Hodgenville to northern Missouri in the mid-1850’s. Finishing the explanation and my story, I asked, “I was wondering if we might be related?”

Before I tell you his response, I need to share some additional information. The late 1970’s was a different period of time…I guess they all are. The 70’s were not as strange as the late 60’s, but the older generation still had difficulty relating to younger people. I guess it might be like my youngest son, Josh, showing up unknown and unannounced at the home of my conservative brothers, saying, “I like Rap Music. I wonder if we might be related.”

I appeared at the door of the Coy home with “cool at the time” long sideburns, a turtle shell and turquoise beaded necklace, a silk long-sleeved shirt with a winged siren print pattern, and tan slacks that flared a little at the cuff. After the question, “I was wondering if we might be related?,” Mr. Coy, the Uncle Leon look-alike, looked directly at me, then at my cool turtle shell, and turquoise heishi-bead necklace, my great-looking, silk winged siren shirt and then my flared slacks. He then raised his gaze to my shirt, my necklace, looked me in the eyes and responded, “NOPE.”

He shut the door, and walked away. I stood at the door wondering if I should attempt to explain the story once more. After I thought about it for a few moments, I realized there was no need to explain the story again…once a Coy makes up his mind, there is no reason to attempt any further discussion. The situation reminded me of the old adage, “don’t try to confuse me with the facts.” I turned, stepped off the porch, walked to the car, got in and drove back to Missouri.


We are frequently reminded of our Spiritual Roots and our connection to God in both the Old and the New Testament. Ancestry and legacy are central to our relationship with God and His son, Jesus Christ. God wants us to understand the relationship He has to us and how we are related to Him and His Son.

In Genesis 25:32 we find the story of two brothers, Jacob and Esau. Esau, the oldest, said to Jacob, “What good is the birthright to me?” He then sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup… (A Bowl of Beans – ABOB).

In life, the reality is we often don’t appreciate and even take for granted our Spiritual birthright. It is essential that we make the commitment and the concentrated effort to maintain our relationship with both our human and Spiritual family.

Ultimately, anything that separates us from our Spiritual roots and our Spiritual family is sin. Sin is nothing more than “A Bowl of Beans – ABOB.” Everyone has the propensity to sin and sin separates us from God and His Son. Make it your highest priority to always honor your birthright and maintain your Spiritual relationship to God and His Son.

At some point in time, we will all stand at the edge of life and eternity. It will be absolutely essential for us to have developed a relationship with God and His Son. If we claim our Spiritual Birthright, we will hear the greeting, “Welcome home, good and faithful servant.” Don’t trade your place in eternity for ABOB. You don’t want to hear, “NOPE,” when you ask God, “I was wondering if we might be related?”