Did you find the story of your Ancestor’s life?
If you did not, you should have because there is a story connected to everyone of your ancestors. Locating the grave and census records is but a snippet of available information. No one lived a life where nothing happened. Every life is filled with some sort of history. Take my childhood, for example. I grew up during WW II. All of my great-uncles served in the Navy. Like those around me, my daily life was filled with war events, viz: food rationing, quarantine signs, loud horns sounding the alert to go inside and douse the lights, and so on. The old newspapers of 1918s and 1940s published stories of the war; also, names. America has experienced a number of war-time events. From Indian wars, the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, WWI, WW II, Korean War, and so on. And there were muster rolls and pension records associated with service. The soldier’s pensions provide the names of their commanders associated with the events.
Find the war during your ancestor’s lifetime, then learn something about those events and officers that he served under. Friends and family members witnessed applications for pensions and other documents. Learn about the witnesses.
Did you know that the first settlers in the western mountains suffered all sorts of atrocities from the Indians? Can you imagine the hardships of crossing the wagon road and wilderness trail through the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains, only to be scalped and tortured by marauding Indian tribes? Upon learning where your ancestor settled, it is time to dig into some history books and maps. One has to investigate.
Finding the old homestead is essential to getting the feel of the era. County maps are helpful as the legend assists in locating old churches, burial grounds, railroad tracks. Likewise, topographical maps assist in finding streams, rivers, trails, roads, hills, trails. I love to see an old tractor in the yard, because I know that the imprints of plowed fields are deep in the soil. A once-working-farm left other signs of toil and labor, viz:, a sunken well, out house, ponds and streams. The family cemetery with its protective iron fence, lovingly shields the graves of several generations. Some of the slate headstones, broken, lie half buried in the earth. And there are several smaller graves marked by rocks. Certain of the…