Letter to your Ancestor
Or "Rednecks, Unanswered questions and Wishful thinking"
by Uncle Hiram
The other night I was sitting in front of my computer staring at my genealogy program and muttering under by breath. I just want five minutes with this guy. How can a person sail from England to North Carolina, live 50 years in our country and leave so many unanswered questions? As I sat there staring at the screen in frustration, I got to thinking, "What I would like to do is write this guy a letter." I realize that he wouldn't ever get the letter or answer the letter but I was hoping it would help me to crystallize what I knew and what I needed to know.
Here is the Letter:
Dear Great Grandfather Howcott:
First let me introduce myself, I am your 11th generation grandson born in the state of Texas in the United States of America. About 30 years after your death the 13 colonies fought a revolution against Great Britain and won their independence. I realize you were a loyal Englishman but your descendants helped to build this great country I now live in, I hope we have in some ways lived up to your expectations. I am currently involved in trying to research our family in order to better understand them and to pass on the family history to my descendants. I hope you don't mind, but I would like to ask you a few questions to help me get a better grip on you and your motivations.
I know you were born in 1688 near Birmingham, England. I know you sold some land in Bertie County North Carolina in 1715. I know you were married and had several children. What I would like to know is:
How did you get to America and in what year did you and your brother sail over here. Also, I am just curious who's ideal was it yours or John's?
What was your wife's name? Did you marry more than once or was the multiple wife's names just a matter of the clerk putting down a nickname instead of the given name?
Why did you leave a safe comfortable life in England for the wilds of North Carolina?
What were the names of all your children?
Why North Carolina instead of one of the more prosperous colonies up north? Not that I am complaining, I much prefer having southern roots.
Why did you leave one of your sons out of your will? Was he still living or had he already passed?
How did you go from being the son of a comfortable but not wealthy Tavern owner to a large land owner in America in only 30 years?
Why didn't you leave better records?
Seriously, don't we all wish we could just sit down with one of our lost ancestors for five minutes to ask him (or her) some key questions? Next week let's discuss letters to distant cousins you don't know.
I am proud to announce the winners of the August Site of the Month Awards:
County Site of the Month
Providence, R.I. USGenWeb Page(http://www.rootsweb.com/~riprovid/)
Home Page of the Month
Harned / The Harneds of North America(http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~harned/index.html)
Misc. Site of the Month
Helm's Genealogy Toolbox - Providing the Tools to Research Your Family Online(http://www.genealogynews.com/)
- Adios and Keep Smiling!
Again I need to point out this column was written many years ago. Since that time I have found answers to some of the questions I wanted to ask my longdead ancestor. I do want to point out the majority of the answers found since I wrote this column were not found by me but instead by a distant cousin doing research in England. The URL for my English "Cousins" website is http://www.howcutt.org/