Monday, April 19, 2010

I am Ancestor Approved

This is a long overdue thanks to Carol at Reflections From the Fence and Yvonne from Swedish Thoughts, who awarded me the Ancestor Approved award. I am very honored and humbled that they considered me worthy of this award.  As I read Carol's list, I was surprised to see so many similarities to my own family.

As a recipient of this award, I am to list 10 things I have learned about my ancestors that have surprised, humbled or enlightened me and then pass the award on to 10 other genealogy bloggers who I feel are doing their ancestors proud.

1. I was surprised (more like shocked) to learn a very close relative was born "three months premature" in the 1920s at, of course, a very healthy birth weight.....

2. I was surprised (more like appalled) when an ancestor was digging through a pile of old black and white photos (about 3x3 inch size) looking for photos of her husband as a child when she came upon a couple of photos showing a KKK group dressed in full garb.  I think I was rendered speechless (hard to do for me) and never did really ask if she knew if there was a family member in that photo as that seemed like the only plausible explanation for why she'd have such a thing. I suspect it was from somewhere in Missouri because that is where her family is from, but that is only a suspicion.

3. I was surprised to learn recently from a fellow descendant of Thomas Howell that he fathered *at least* 19 known illegitimate children. I knew there were about five or six but am rather stunned at 19. What is even more stunning/disturbing/annoying is that he was unable to help his son-in-law, Archibald McNeill, by providing an affidavit for Arch's Civil War pension that could have helped provide details of the time in question that was the primary reason the government kept denying the pension. But yet he had 19 illegitimate children! FYI - the lady that shared this information and I both descend from legitimate children from his first marriage to Piety Wilson.

4. I am humbled by my ancestors who left their homeland to come to a country unknown on the hope and a prayer of a better life. It makes me realize how cushy I have things and I don't know if I'd ever have half the courage these individuals had to have had to come to this new world.

5. I am humbled by all the ancestors that have served our country in the military, including countless WWII soldiers, including my grandfather and his two brothers; a great-grandfather that served stateside in WWI; at least four ancestors served during the Civil War on either side of the battle; and at least four known ancestors served as Revolutionary soldiers.

6. I am continually surprised at all the distant family of my grandfather Lee McNeill that is out there and seeking our mutual ancestors. I am humbled when I am asked to help provide information as I distinctly remember when I started out that I was the one asking ALL of the questions.

7.  I am humbled at all my grandmothers who bore countless children with little to no medical help, raised their large broods without modern conveniences (the washing machine comes to mind here), or worse yet had to bury their babies or young children.  One distant grandmother gave birth to 13 children and only one a set of twins.  In her case almost all survived to adulthood.  It just makes me very thankful for modern medicine and conveniences.

8.  It was surprising to learn that my most recent immigrant ancestor came to the United States in about 1881.  From where you might ask?  Canada.  Of course Fannie Arnold Harmon had originally come from England in about 1867 to Niagara, Ontario.  I think based upon my public school history classes I assumed that I had Ellis Island people.  Instead I have colonial people by the dozens.

9.  I had a moment of enlightment several years ago when I realized that I could no more take credit for my ancestor's victories than I should take blame for their faults (see #2 and #3 above as well as to some extent #1).  I think it helped make me more objective as I try to assemble the story of the family's life.

10.  It is very humbling to know that I am who I am because of all those that came before me.  My upbringing is a result of my parents and grandparents, and their upbringing as a result of their own parents and grandparents.  To paraphrase what Glenn Close said in "Faces of America", we are all products of those that came before us.

Now because I am long overdue in acknowledging this award, I have no idea who has and hasn't received it.  If you have not yet been a recipient, please consider yourself honored.  I would love to hear about your list.

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