Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

#200--Context Matters.

When I started to do genealogy, I was very content to build my family tree--to put all those ancestors with their vital records into it.  Pretty soon though, I became much more interested in who they were and what they did. 

While the vital records are interesting, they really do not paint a picture of who these people were or what their daily life was like.  I have found several sources that have been helpful in that regard. 

One is newspapers.  Chronicling American from the Library of Congress has newspapers from cities all over the United States.  I was delighted to discover that The Butler Missouri Newspaper, The Butler Weekly Times and the Bates County Record were on line.  While you can browse a particular issue, you can also do a name search for all the issues.  Since Butler is a small town, there is a lot of information about its residents and their activities.  When I searched John W. Hannah and the Palace Hotel which he built, I got over 100 hits.  One of my favorites is the description of John and Jennie (Willey) Anniversary Party. 

Fulton Postcards has newspapers from all over New York State.  Since I have many family members who lived in that state, for me it is a great site.  Using it I was able to find an ad for the Hannah-Ross Shoe company in Auburn, New York, a company that I did not know my grandfather was involved in.  I have also been able to read about my grandmother and grandfather’s wedding, various parties, funerals, etc. 

Another source for finding out what life was life for my ancestors is books covering the towns or counties where they lived.  I have used those books from a variety of places.  Most useful have been the town records of Dedham, Massachusetts.  The records go back to the early 1600.  In those records I found that Edward Richards who settled in Dedham in about 1632 was given more land because there was a defect in his
current property.  However, I have also used the History of Edgar County, Illinois and the History of Brown County Ohio.  Both of these books are available on Google Books. 

I have also used books that focus on life at a particular time in our history, e.g., Frontier Living by Edwin Tunis for my Hannahs and Mears who lived in Brown County, Ohio and Edgar County, Illinois in the 1800’s. Since my ancestors moved from place to place Walking with Your  Ancestors by Melinda Kashuba was particularly useful.    While these books do not specifically deal with my ancestors, they do describe what their lives might have been like. 

When I was a little girl, I loved to hear stories from my mother and grandparents about what their lives were like when they were my age.  So I really would like to talk to my relatives and have them described what their lives were like. 

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