Unusual and Overlooked Aspects of Ancestors' Lives



Some life events that our ancestors faced from the 18th and 19th century and well into the 20th century people have forgotten about. Here are a few to examine and see if was a factor in the lives of your ancestors. More than likely it was important.

Starting with females, they were treated as second-class citizens in many locations. Even if they did any rights or privileges, they often spent their entire child-bearing years either pregnant or nursing. A woman may have her first baby at 18 and her last one in her 40s. If the woman was divorced or widowed, she had to remarry soon and be prepared to do the cooking, housekeeping and breeding of sons.

Those babies born didn’t always survive after their birth or in early infancy. With no pre-vaccine, pre-antibiotic age, a family might have eight or nine children and watch half of them die of childhood ailments. Chances were slim that all children would survive to adulthood. Plus many children became disabled due to diseases such as polio or injuries working on a farm.  

In American for each new wave of immigrates, there always appeared some discrimination in their treatment for housing or jobs. Some you might not think were mistreated were in fact discriminated against. The German immigrates, the Irish, the Italians, those from Poland, from Spain, from the Scandinavia nations, the list goes on and on. So many of the immigrates changed their names, learned English and tried to mixed with the population.

In many rural and sparsely populated villages and towns, there would be a rather small pool of marriage prospects. Some in a town with mostly Irish/German Protestant families were bound to marry other Irish/German protestant relatives (2nd cousins for example) during their lives.

Marriage was very important to families. Well into the 20th century, couples married for necessity. Children were expected from every marriage. Widowed men and women with children had to get remarried right away to care for the children. There’s no such thing as daycare. Things were even more urgent for a widowed (or divorced) woman with kids. Women had very few career choices, and child care choices were limited. So marry for Love was rare. 

Lacking advanced medical care as found in the 21st century, our ancestors died in droves due to flu epidemics, typhoid and other contagious diseases. So to have ancestors who lived to age 80 years old or older was rare. 

Photos: Taylor family with 7 children in 1911; Babies in 1900; housework in 1890 and fighting Tuberculosis.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Illnesses of Long Ago

Shocking Facts

The Bravery of our Ancestors

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