Monday, March 7, 2011

Why Do People Have Favorite Ancestors?

In her post, Why do people have favorite ancestors? on the Marian's Roots and Rambles blog, Marian Pierre-Louis provides her own, and Elissa Scalise Powell's, answers to the question.

My reasons are somewhat similar.  But different.

Like Marian, I identify "favorite ancestors" with a good story, or a relatively full family history file.  It is difficult to identify with an ancestor that you know nothing about.  My Devier J. Smith is a good example - I know quite a bit about his life, but nothing about his birth parents.

I also identify "favorite ancestors" with those that are difficult to find information about but that I've worked on for a long time.  My Elizabeth Horton Dill, Thomas J. Newton and William Knapp are examples of this. 

I identify with several "favorite ancestors" that suffered hardship in their lives, and overcame those hardships to be productive persons.  My Isaac Seaver (orphaned at age 2, first wife died after childbirth, Civil War soldier), Isaac Buck (illegitimate, Revolutionary War soldier, dirt poor in old age), Henry Austin Carringer (moved to IA at age 5, then to Iowa, then to Colorado, finally to San Diego, California). 

The genealogy information is useful and somewhat interesting, but the life details are what provide the "real fun" for me in family history research. 

Thanks, Marian, for the blog fodder on a day that I've been too busy to write anything before now!

What about your "favorite ancestors?"  Who are they, and why do you identify them that way?


Miz J said...

Great topic, Randy!

The first one that comes to mind is my maternal 3rd great grandmother, Rachel Carman Roll. She was part of one of the pioneer families of Sangamon county, Illinois. Her family was personally familiar with Abraham Lincoln; he saved her younger brother from drowning in a river, he served as her attorney when she divorced her first husband for abandonment, and her father owned a tavern where he was known to tell stories as a young man. Poor Rachel died when she was only 27. I would love to have a chance to hear her stories, and also to ask her about her mother, about whom we know nothing but a name.

Another favorite is my 3rd great grandfather, Blancett (spelled various ways) Sanders. He was born just before the Revolutionary War, in the Orangeburgh district of South Carolina, and in 1811 file a land claim to receive land in St. Tammany parish, Louisiana, when it first became a state. He had 2 wives and at least 13 children. He seems to be a key character in connecting many of my mother's ancestors, and must have had some great stories, also.

Finally, I have to include my 2nd great-grandfather on my dad's side, George Willason Wade. He was born in Canada in 1843, and his parents brought him to Michigan in 1863. His father had previously been a landowner, but died without property at an unknown time & place. George patented several inventions. He moved from Michigan to northern Alabama, where the story is that he "traded" his youngest daughter (my great grandmother)as a bride to a widower 3 times her age, to settle a debt. His place and date of death is also unknown.

I think the common thread for me is: interesting times and interesting stories, but also the fact that each of these people holds key information about other ancestors that I know little or nothing about.

Geni Grant said...

Thanks for the link to this post, Randy.

Marian's post is a great writing prompt.