Over the centuries, countless events, people, diseases could create fear for our ancestors. Yet, they continued on to meet that challenge head on. So what type of fearful events could our ancestors face?
Number one was disease and illness. Only in very recent decades was medical advancements help do away with many fears of sickness due to major plagues which could kill whole village populations. Even when there was no plague, parents always feared the death of their children. Women had ten or more children, they must have worried about who would raise their existing children if they died in childbirth with number 11 or 12? Of course, families always lost at childbirth or within the first two years many of their young children without the vaccines, etc available later. If the children did survive beyond a young age, the was the worry of carrying and feeding them.
Having enough safe food and water to consume was a worry for many people, either in a rural area or in a city. Again with little or no medicine, family members could died from unsafe food.
Then throughout history in all types of locations there was fear of practicing your faith which could put you in mortal danger. It didn’t matter if one was Jewish, Christian, Muslin, etc, there were those who only wanted to do away with anyone who practiced a disfavored religion.
Ethnic profiling has existed for decades. At one time if you were of Irish heritage, you could not get decent housing or a job. That was true for many German immigrants, or those from Poland or Italy. The list goes on. Recall many people in the United States at certain time periods even stated,”the only good Indian was a dead Indian.”
Imagine the fear and uncertainty the immigrant ancestors had leaving their homeland, travel on a ship for weeks to come and start over in a new land. Not going just to America, many also went to Canada, Latin America, or Australia. You have got to hand it to our ancestors who made that journey for a new life in a new land – they did have to be brave.
Once in a new land, even if the family descendants stayed in the same location for years, sometime along the way, a family branch headed out in a wagon train or a steam ship to a new frontier. Again there was the unknown and fear of if they were be successful.
Overall, many people for centuries had a hard and a very uncertain life. We do need to learn of what hardships our ancestors faced to truly know them a person. In any family history (story of the family) include those uncertainties and hardships faced by your ancestors.
Photos: Black Plague in the Middle Ages; large family of children in 1880s; 1863 Indians; Wagon train in 1870s.
Related FamilyTree.com genealogy blogs:< Return To Blog