There are many different groups within my family heritage. Some are enormous, with hundreds of descendants, and others have faded into obscurity. There are a lot of people with blood ties to me, though as time goes by, surnames end up being supplanted. For example, the Kirton Clan (originating from Richard Kirton born circa 1830), has all but died out, while the Counts family (from Jacob Counts, Sr., 1738) has hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of descendants, many of whom still share the Counts name.
While I can claim the heritage of Counts, Kirton, Ballinger, Forthman, etc..., my own surname is one of unique interest. As I've previously discussed, the "Ingham" name in my family actually comes from adoption, as my grandfather was a MacCain by blood. This sets us up as something of a clan of our own; the MacCain-Inghams. At last count, there were 13 people that I know of who can claim to be part of this special sub-clan (not counting spouses), and it seems my sons will be the only ones to carry on the surname (unless my father's young half-brother has a sudden lifestyle change, that is). I say "sons" plural because I hope to have more than one someday. My heirs should be many, and I hope some of them will manage to carry on the patriarchal line.
I always felt a certain responsibility to carry on the family line. Growing up, I was always aware of how uncommon my surname was, and it seemed a great shame to let it die out. It was certainly a determining factor when it came to certain choices, as there were some risks I never took because this thought was in the back of my mind: I could not get myself killed without heirs, especially a male one. I don't know if that makes me old-fashioned or vain, but it's an important part of my overall existence; the desire to perpetuate "The Clan."
This kind of family pride is something a lot of people have cast aside these days, as dysfunctional households and a decadent society often raise children to disregard their heritage. My upbringing may have been dysfunctional, but I was still taught the importance of family, and therefore have a great reverence for my roots.
Who will continue your family clan when you are gone?