The September 17, 2006, issue of Parade Magazine asks in its lead article, "If you had a one day to spend with someone who's gone... who would it be? What would you do?"
The article by New York Times best-selling author Mitch Albom, is written from the frame of reference of having one more day to spend with a deceased, beloved family member. Everyone it seems has a loved one they'd like to see just one more time.
But what if you could choose to spend one day with someone, anyone, on your family tree? Who would that be? Why?
Craig selected an ancestor who was a free man of color in Louisiana in the 1800's for whom he has been unable to find his ancestry. Craig has a number of reasons for selecting James Bowie - compelling material - read Craig's blog for wonderful and difficult research and historical context. The most profound words I saw in Craig's post was this:
And then I would tell him about the remarkable lives of his many, many descendants.
What a wonderful and beautiful thought!
My own selection would be a bit more mundane. I think it would be Thomas J. Newton, born in Maine, who married Sophia (Buck) Brigham - he is one that I cannot connect to a Newton family, as I described earlier. I would ask him who his parents were, where he lived, what he did for a living, how he hooked up with Sophia, why they moved to Cambridge VT, and what happened after the birth of their two (at least) children.
My second choice would be Elizabeth Horton Dill, who married Alpheus Smith in Dedham MA in 1826. Her vital records are confusing and incomplete, as I've described before. I would ask her who her parents and siblings were, what was her childhood like, why she moved from Cape Cod to Dedham MA, and about her life as a widow in Medfield.
My third choice would be Hannah Smith, who married Josiah Sawtell in 1790 in Brookline NH. I would ask her who her parents, grandparents and siblings were and about her children.
So I cheated - giving three instead of one. It is hard to choose only one, since I have so many brick walls.
There are many other ancestors that I would like to meet - William Knapp, Ranslow Smith, Martin Carringer, Isaac Buck, Norman Seaver, Peregrine White, Anne Bradstreet, etc. Perhaps in the next life! I keep hoping to have dreams where one or more elusive ancestors come by and give me clues to further my ancestry research.
I look at it this way - a better genealogy researcher than I should be able to figure these things out!
What about you - which ancestor would you like to meet, and why?