Saturday, January 26, 2008

If you could have dinner with four of your ancestors who would they be and why?

Ol' Myrt here wouldn't be so vainglorious as to assume her ancestors would prefer visiting the current time period for our family's GENEALOGICAL GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER. Besides, I'd like to experience eating hard tack in a makeshift fox hole, talk by moonlight and gaze at the stars on the open plains, aid my ancestor resting after injury on the 3rd day of battle at Gettysburg, or experience sailing across the Atlantic in the early 1700s.

I'm not all that brave, I'd just like to experience each ancestor's life as they knew it.

That would be an easy thing to do. Armed with with the knowledge that I could return to the comfort and convenience of my 21st century lifestyle, I could probably endure any discomfort for a few hours in exchange for the opportunity to look into an ancestor's eyes and listen to the voice of experience from an earlier time and place.

INTERESTING POSSIBILITIES for my guest list would be the following ancestors:

MOST RECENT - My parents, to see how they are doing and to find out if things really are like what we imagined as we talked during the last weeks before they passed away.

MOST MYSTERIOUS - Dolly Yockey (born 8 Jan 1824 of Franklin, PA) , since I'd like to know if she really left her husband Daniel Weiser & kids to join the circus, and how that worked out for her.

MOST ELUSIVE - Dolly Yockey's parents are as yet unknown to us, for we've only heard she was born in Pennsylvania. Her marriage certificate in Scotio, Ohio was no help; and pre-1850 US federal census records list several Yockey households with females the appropriate age with (unfortunately) only the names of heads of households. Wills & land records have not provided clues. But if they came to dinner, it would open a whole line of new research possibilities. I could send the invitation addressed "to whom it may concern" and trust the angels for appropriate delivery.

MOST COURAGEOUS - This is a tough category to define when one considers that living life without electricity, indoor plumbing, modern modes of transportation, medical technology, and a reliable food & water supply system was courageous for all of our pre-1900 ancestors. However, these sub-categories come to mind:
  • Civil War soldiers: William Gist Froman, Talburt Higgins & William Henry A. Phillips. The latter went by the name Henry at some times and William at other times. If it weren't for an affidavit from his wife Permelia Warren, this naming scheme would have confused me for another twenty years.
  • Mormon Pioneer Ancestors: David Dutton Yearsley, who died at Winter Quarters (Nebraska), and his wife Mary Ann Hoopes who went on to settle Ogden, Utah with their young children. I cannot imagine traveling by wagon, actually walking most of the way when one was accustomed to living in the only 3-story brick house in Nauvoo, Illinois.
  • Early Mormon Missionary: William Brockerman Wright (1836-1913) who went in a mission in the 1850s to the "Sandwich Islands" and took his wife and children with him. That means over the Sierra Nevada's by wagon train, then a slow boat to Hawaii. Gosh.
  • Early Welsh Quaker Ancestors - Well, it would be hard to narrow it down, but I'd like to visit the Radnor meeting in the late 17th century, just to see how things were run. I understand Quaker women had a more prominent role than in other religions of the time.
    MOST NOTORIOUS - This would be my maternal great-grandmother Louisa Mae Higgins who lived openly with a series of men while her much older US Civil War Union soldier husband William Gist Froman wasted away in the old soldier's home at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

MOST FAMOUS - A 1709 emigrant from W├╝rttemberg, Germany, Conrad Weiser, who as a teenager left his father & step-mother's camp in Weiserdorf, New York to live with the Indians. This experience served him well in later life as an Indian interpreter for the provincial government of Pennsylvania, and a Colonel during the French & Indian War. He later joined the cloister at Ephrata and served as a magistrate in Reading. His restored homestead still stands in Womelsdorf, PA.

OLDEST ORIGINAL RESEARCH - It was quite an accomplishment for Ol' Myrt here to unearth ancient documents linking six generations and developing the understanding that Charles Player and his wife Ann are the parents of our known original immigrant William Warner Player who was christened 3 March 1793 in Chelsea, Middlesex, England, and died 23 Feb 1873 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

AS WITH ALL DINNERS at Ol' Myrt's house, there is always room for one or two more. That would have to be the case for this ancestral dining feast. I simply cannot narrow it down to four.

At least one other genealogy blogger has already weighed in on this topic, which will become part of the 41st Carnival of Genealogy:

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley, All Rights Reserved.

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