Monday, November 5, 2007

Ancestors on Line 1

Welcome to the new Genealogy Gems News Blog...

I’ve been in a reminiscing mood as Fall has taken hold. So when the cordless telephone in my office started developing a nasty hum, I went out to buy myself a new phone, and ended up with an OLD phone. Well a new phone in a very old style.

It’s a heavy, black “Kettle” phone. Something like you’d expect to see on Philip Marlow’s desk or on the coffee table next to the chair in my Grandparent’s living room. I love that the receiver has a nice heavy feel in my hands when I answer it, and I’m pleasantly surprised every time I hear the real telephone bell ring.

Wouldn’t it be great if, like a Twilight Zone episode, you could answer an old fashioned phone like this and an ancestor would be on the other end? Who would I want it to be? What would I ask them if I had that second chance?

I posed these questions in the latest issue of the Genealogy Gems Podcast monthly newsletter and have already received some great responses. Here's one from a listener in Texas:

"Who would I want it to be? For me, I would ask my great-great-great grandfather Bradbury just where he and his wife were in 1860 and 1870 and also what his full name is. If I had a second question to another ancestor, I would ask my great-great-great grandfather Elijah Alexander who his parents were and if he was a grandson of the Elijah Alexander who fought in the Rev. War under his father, William Alexander. If I had a third question to another ancestor, I would ask John A. Fisher who his parents were and where they were born For my husband, I would ask his great-great mother Rachel what her maiden name was and if she was married to Joel Hobbs. If I had a second question to another of his ancestors, I would ask his great-grandmother about her father, Seamon Butler and confirm what her mother's name was. What would I ask them if I had that second chance? I would have asked my grandmother Bonnie more about any family stories and, barring that, I would ask her oldest sister, Callie, about any family stories. I love Genealogy Gems and the tips and links and I love these questions!"
Gwen Goff Hobbs TX

and from Margaret:
"If I could have one more chat with my father-in-law, Otto Miesterfeld, I would ask him one more question. He gave me stories and all the information on his ancestors in Letschin and Kienwerder, Brandenburg, Prussia in the late 1700's thru the early 1900's. He told me about Duke von Hardenburg draining the valley along the west side of the Oder River and keeping the river in its bed creating rich farmland. Duke von Hardenburg then invited settlers to migrate and farm the land. However, I failed to ask one important question. I would now ask my father-in-law where the family lived before settling in this Oder River valley."
Margaret Miesterfeld

And Pat loved thinking about who might be on line one (and gave me the title for this blog!): "What a great way to start my day--thinking about who could be on the line for such a call! I also feel somewhat reminiscent and perhaps it is due to the changing season. I would love to have a chance to speak with "Grampie Brown", my ggg-grandfather (so this wouldn't technically be a second chance to speak with him) and I would ask him first to tell me about his daughter Caroline's childhood. I have no records of them ever together. Her mother died when she was young and I've been unable to find them together as a family and I think always about them and how they lived and what happened to this young girl and her father. After that, I would ask him how he can to enlist in a Wisconsin regiment for his first Civil War enlistment. Of all the mysteries about Grampie Brown, these are the two that most plague me. If it were to be someone who's passed in my lifetime, I'd want the caller to be my maternal grandfather "Weenie" Flynn. I talked to my grandmother about family, but for some reason I don't ever recall talking much to him about it. Now that I've learned more, I would love to ask him some specific questions especially about his dad, Patrick and their time in Cameron County PA. Again, thanks for allowing my brain a little unique exercise this morning. I love the podcast (and your book!). Pat Dalpiaz"

Answering questions like these really help us focus in on our research goals. Give it some thought and let us know what you think!

I'll talk to you soon,


Dyrinda said...

What an interesting question! My answer would probably change by the hour, but at the moment I would love to chat with my parents-in-law, who died long before I met and married their son. They raised a wonderful man, and I would at least like to thank them. This would not advance my family research one jot, but I can be really sentimental.

How about you?

Dave said...

You never know what you will find as you climb your family tree. Sometimes the details of their lives are sad or even disturbing. As such I would want to speak to my 2 great grandmother. At age 18 she was already on her second marriage. In the census 10 years later her 2 sons at 7 and 9 years old are in an orphanage and she is nowhere to be found. I am really curious to know what was going on in her life to leave behind 2 young boys (luckily the son by her 1st marriage was taken in by his paternal grandparents). It seems so sad for those boys.

Genealogy Gems said...

From Sherrie H. in CA...I would ask my maternal Grandpa Lubker (whom I knew--I used to stay with them and he was a mason and built our beachplace): were you married to a Danish woman named Jensine before you both emigrated in 1901 and you married my Grandma Ella LePla in 1906? Or did you fake a marriage to bring a cousin's or friend's fiancé or wife to this country for them? If you were married, did she die or were you divorced? And were there any children?! I found this startling bit of information in his Ship Records.

Rollin Butler said...

"The person I would like to talk to would be my 6th Great-Grandfather Henry Wenzel. I would specifically ask him, "I have information that you participated in the Boston Tea Party. Is this true?"