I was thrilled earlier this month when Linda McCauley, who writes Documenting the Details, gave me the “Ancestor Approved Award.” The award was created by Leslie Ann of Ancestors Live Here in March 2010, and has been passed along to many genealogical bloggers. I am honored to be in such wonderful company. Thank you, Linda, for the unexpected but much-appreciated recognition!
Recipients are asked to make a list of ten things they have learned about their ancestors that have humbled, surprised, or enlightened them. Then they are to pass on the award to ten other bloggers who are doing their ancestors proud. Because I had to replace my computer’s hard drive and was busy preparing for the holidays, it took me a little while to compile my list. It’s been a good wrap-up exercise for the end of the year, though. Here are my ten:
1. I was surprised to find my ancestors Samuel and Matilda Wright living in the area served by the Dublin, Ohio post office in 1870. This is the community where I now live. It’s nice to know I have roots here that go back deep into the city’s 200-year history.
2. I was humbled by the hardships suffered by two of my Civil War ancestors, Newel King and John Steele. Newel contracted measles in camp, and endured seizures and ill health the rest of his life. John fell sick on a march, which left him permanently weakened and unable to work. They were just ordinary soldiers, but their stories make the sacrifices of that generation real to me.
3. I was humbled, too, by the fortitude of the women of the Civil War generation. Mary Steele applied for a widow’s pension as soon as she was eligible, but it took over a decade of continuously submitting affidavits and forms before her application was approved. In the meantime, she was destitute. Somehow she managed to raise her kids and survive.
4. It was enlightening to discover what my 7th great-grandfather, Johan Adam Rausch, likely experienced when he immigrated to the colony of Pennsylvania in 1736. It was a long, hard journey from the German Rhineland to Philadelphia, with an uncertain future upon arrival. There are so many questions I would love to ask him!
5. It was enlightening to learn about the Revolutionary War service of my 6th great-grandfather, Jacob Roush, who served in a Virginia militia from Dunmore (now Shenandoah) County. He also fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant in Lord Dunmore’s War (October 1774)—a fascinating story of miscommunication and bravery.
6. I was excited to find Jacob Roush then bought land in Gallia County, Ohio, along the Ohio River, in April 1803—just a month after Ohio became a state. His descendents remained in Gallia County for nearly a century. Maybe that’s why I feel a special affinity for southeastern Ohio. I have a long kinship there. Two of my children have carried the connection forward as students at Ohio University in Athens.
7. I was thrilled to discover the original baptismal Fraktur of two of my great-grandparents, John Llewellyn Eberhard and Mary Madina Comfort, in my aunt’s possession. These beautifully illustrated parchments, characteristic of the “Pennsylvania Dutch,” document their births in Lehigh County and are priceless family heirlooms.
8. My husband’s ancestors are just as interesting and inspiring as my own. It’s been tremendously satisfying to trace six generations of his family in Portage County, Ohio, and to locate the graves of his 3rd great-grandfather, Fitch Bishop, and 4th great-grandfather, Eli Barnum—both previously unknown. Sharing what I’ve found with my father-in-law has been one of my highlights as a family historian.
9. I am deeply indebted to the ancestors who took up the role of family historian long before me. Christine Steele, Harold Crites, and Harriet Boynton Whiting left written chronologies and summaries that have proven invaluable. Even though they are gone, I feel a sense of partnership with them, almost as if we are collaborating through some transcendence of time.
10. It’s amazing to realize how far back I can go with people I actually knew. I remember my paternal great-grandmother, Irene (Clark) Ballenger, who was born in 1887. My memories of my maternal great-grandmother, Mabel (Seely) Herrel, born in 1891, are even clearer. Of course I knew these women late in their lives, and only from a child’s perspective. But still, that’s a long reach, and it makes me realize I need to write those memories down. Now.
If choosing ten things about my ancestors was hard, choosing just ten bloggers out of the dozens that I read was even harder! There are so many talented and interesting writers in the genealogical blogosphere. And you are all doing your ancestors proud! I tried to identify bloggers who may not have received the Ancestor Approved Award before, though there's probably some overlap:
1. Malissa at Family Epic
2. Rita at Tattered Past
3. Teresa at Teresa’s Tangled Roots
4. Kelly at Sunny Ancestry
5. Elizabeth at Genealogy Geek
6. Cheryl at Have You Seen My Roots?
7. Caroline at Family Stories
8. Diana at Random Relatives
9. Travis at TJL Genes
10. Jenna at Desperately Seeking Surnames