In my family tree, there are huge gaping holes in our family stories. I have so many questions for ancestors. If I could go back in time with a little voice recorder, there are quite a few of my ancestors I would want to interview. I’d also have a few questions for my husband’s ancestors—after all, they, too, are my children’s progenitors.
Note: Keep in mind; stories don’t have to have happily-ever-after endings. Your questions for ancestors could lead to great stories about them!
Van Field Clark: “Are all Grandma’s war stories true?”
Van Field Clark was “Grandpa Clark” to my grandmother. As she collected her memories, she wrote down some of his Civil War stories, none of which I have been able to substantiate. Not only would I want to know if the stories are true, I would want to hear them first hand.
Sarah “Sally” Keeton Clark: “How did you raise 11 kids?”
We probably all have questions for ancestors about how they managed to raise so many kids. I would love to talk to Sally in particular because of the times and circumstances she lived in. Born in 1804, when the nation was young, Sally saw several of her sons and grandsons go off to fight during the civil war. I’d love to know what made her tick.
William Crymes: “What were your dreams for the New World?”
Of course, I’d add, “Did they come true?” William, born in 1665, was the originator of my maternal family’s riches-to-rags story. Shortly after the Revolutionary War, the British crown striped the family of its titles and lands for its American patriotism.
Joseph Savoy: “How could you abandon your child?”
This is a dark cloud in my ancestry. My great grandmother died delivering my grandmother. When Grandma was a young teen, my great-grandfather dropped her off in Lunenburg County, Virginia for a two-week summer visit. He never returned for her. Grandma was raised by relatives—whoever had room and meals to spare.
Sometimes I don’t know if I could “make nice” long enough to interview him. On the other hand, there had to be two sides of the story. We suspect that my grandmother was neglected, if not abused, by her stepmother. Did her father think she’d be better off? He paid a high price for his act: estrangement from the tight-knit, loving Lunenburg County side of the family. I wonder how he felt about it towards the end of his life.
Joshua Hedgecock: “Why did the Family Name Change from Hitchcock to Hedgecock?”
This is a big mystery in among the Hedgecock and Hedgcock families. My kids lament it too. They don’t appreciate having a last name that ends in any kind of “cock,” but claim “Hitchcock” would be better because it’s better known.
Thomas Gosset Hedgecock and Albert Gallatin Hedgecock: “Why Did You Leave North Carolina for Iowa?”
Sometime after 1850, this father and son packed up their families and moved to Iowa. I can’t help but theorize that the slavery issue was the catalyst. Albert fought for the Union arm in Tennessee. I wonder if he fought against any Confederate Hedgecocks. Later he was a homesteader in Nebraska, which meant building his home off of his tree-less land. I wonder how much he missed the south, especially during those Nebraska winters.
Your Questions for Ancestors
Your turn: What would you ask your ancestors, if only you could. I’d love to read your comments.