February 2, 2019
Many genealogists, beginner or experienced, love the thrill of researching their ancestors. Some even get addicted because they find something new on their relatives during each research endeavor. However, I encourage all genealogists to research the family history of each direct ancestor and keep a brief or detailed biographical sketch of each ancestor. I think it is important to learn as much background about your ancestors. It’s sad just to record names, dates, and locations without knowing anything about your ancestors!
As I was researching my ancestors, I discovered several stories that made my ancestor’s lives really interesting. For example, one of my g-g-greatmothers, who gave away her young children just to receive a Scottish inheritance! Scottish laws back then required all children had to be born in Scotland, otherwise you couldn’t receive any land. The inheritance was a Scottish castle. After giving away her kids, she sold the castle, got the money, and put her husband in business. You can imagine her children were very upset, especially the oldest one when they were given away. The end result was my g-g-greatmother needed a place to stay after her youngest daughter was tragically murdered. For payback, the oldest daughter committed her mother to a mental hospital, where she died a month later.
Another interesting story was about my g-greatfather. He disappeared for almost 28 years when he was robbed and knocked out at a St. Paul stock yard, where he was working as a livestock broker in 1905. My g-grandmother received a call 26 years later from a hospital in Oakland, California. They convinced her that her husband with a different last name, stricken from a heart attack, was dying in their hospital! She tried calling her son, living in a small Montana town, where telephones were almost non-existent in 1931. Word finally got to her son several days later, who hopped on a train to Oakland. Unfortunately, his dad died the previous day. The doctors surmised he had amnesia from being an alcoholic and knocked out at the stockyard. During the heart attack, he remembered his past and asked the nurse to call his wife in St. Paul.
I had trouble researching my g-grandfather with his other name. My uncle gave me a letter that explained most of the missing years about my g-grandfather. Several friends at the hospital filled in those missing years my grandfather sent his mother and sister. Interestingly, I discovered my g-grandfather remarried and had another daughter that nobody knew about. With a little research, you can find some interesting stories about your ancestors!
So what do you do with all these stories about your ancestors? If you’re using a genealogy program such as Family Tree Maker or other similar program, add these important stories or facts into the notes or stories section of each ancestor. Even the online trees using Ancestry.com or My Heritage.com allows you to add facts and stories about each ancestor. Family Tree Maker or Ancestry.com Family Trees creates “Smart Stores” from all the facts you have created for each ancestor. You’ll be glad you did as you learn about your ancestors!
LCGS Education Chair