Focus on One Ancestor – Good or Bad

All of us have quite a few multifaceted ancestors covering the decades, some who had some great achievements and some who had a poor reputation. Each is interesting and should be investigated to learn for future generations their full life story.

The best approach as you have done some family history is which one ancestor really caught your attention. Concentrate on that one ancestor – good or bad and put together their life events.

You will need to trace just about every aspect of the most interesting aspect of that ancestor. Some individuals had achievement their whole life and others just pen or two notable accomplishments.

Several different sources to check would include any family letters, journals, diaries or notes written in the family Bible. Another wonderful location to check out the hometown newspapers, plus see if anything is at a local county or city museum.

Sometimes you just happen on an event. I had such an exciting find that I just happened to stumble on it. Letters to an ancestor, John George Wagoner of Hanover, Pennsylvania during the American Civil War had been handed down in the family. They came into my possession years go and I have gone over them several times. Not until I took the time to check for fine details in the words written of these letters from other family members that a light bulb went on. John was heartbroken over the death of his son, a Union Pvt. Wesley Wagoner, who died in a Confederate prison.

While going word for word over a letter to John George Wagoner from his sister in Westminster, MD, I make a fascinating discovery. The sister, Maggie Wagoner, in the letter dated November 26, 1863, wrote of her sorrow with the death of young Wesley and that family members from Westminster had just made the trip to Gettysburg at the dedication of the cemetery where so many died during the Battle of Gettysburg in early July. Family members did see John Wagoner up on the speakers’ platform but could not reach the stand to speak to John because of the large crowd. This was the same dedication attended by President Abraham Lincoln who gave his famous ‘Gettysburg Address’. John Wagoner, must have been invited to attend the dedication and be on the speakers’ stand because of the recent loss of his only son. Now that is amazing ! You wonder how many previous generations of my same family had read those letters and didn’t figure that John had been part of a historical event.

So take the time, focus on one ancestor as much as possible.

Photos: Newspapers; Diary and Letters.

Related Blogs:

Old Letters or a Diary

Use Chronicling America

Communication by Writing

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