Family tree amazement

December 19, 2009

1790 census cats
I’ve been up to my eyes with grading final projects (I’ll give the lowdown on that in a separate post).

A few months ago Susan McClary told me that she had been digging around in her family history on ancestor.com. I grumbled that I had jumped into it for a while 20 years ago but lost interest. As I’ve been grading and nursing my dear Daniel who has a back issue, I joined ancestry.com and became instantly hooked. I’ll report in a later post on my many findings, but suffice it to say it’s been a real joy reading old scans of census, birth, death, marriage, tax and land ownership documents with my relatives names on them. Slowly one pieces together, in broad strokes, stories, real and imagined. Half of my family had slaves in the 17th and 18th century, the other half seemed to oppose it.

It is amusing to see censuses in 1800 where only the head of the household is counted; the boys and men are separated into 0-10, 11-15-, 16-25, 26-44, and 45 and older. By contrast, the women in some states are just lumped together in one statistic, regardless of age, in other states women are afforded their own age categories like the men’s. Slaves are always lumped together. I saw many census documents where my families had a black family living with them. Their names, ages, sex, and relationships were all stated.

Many of my relatives fought in the Civil War as well as the War of 1812. The survivors were given land grants for their service, and they stayed there for generations.

I’m amazed. There is so much online nowadays that, in my case, much of it just falls into place by gathering other’s family trees, and now available online historical documents.

Go figure that the first two people with whom I shared my newest hobby were adapted. One must learn to be sensitive to one’s enthusiasm.–something I’ve never been good at doing.

[For those of you on ancestor.com, my family tree is called Bourland-Rhodes Family Tree.]

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