52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Uncertain

52 Ancestors

There are so many possibilities for the topic of uncertain.

Uncertain about evidence

I am uncertain about some connections I’ve made when a lack of evidence is available. But this has taught me to seek new methods and use analytical skills to put together indirect evidence, and sometimes negative evidence. Yet, even when I think I can reasonably argue my hypothesis, I still seek that ultimate evidence in records stating, “this person was the child of that person.” Even with DNA evidence, I find myself searching for that hard record. Just to ease my uncertainty.

Uncertain about writing

I am uncertain that I will be able to maintain weekly articles on my blog…ironically, the longer I write, the harder it is to come up with things to write about. This is a struggle of my own doing. The purpose of my blog is to share what I have learned about our ancestors with my family. Also, I hope to find other researchers looking into the same ancestors as me and see the detail and justification for making the progress I have made. Part one of my purpose limits me to what I find of interest to the family. For instance, I am sure they are not interested in my blathering about techniques or methods. However, I include these details because of part 2 of my purpose. And genealogy is slow. I have already written all I know about ancestors I am certain of. My blog is current on what I know so far, and now I am in the process of building the stories for the next few people in these lines. It is a struggle to balance interesting and fun articles for the non-genealogical family member to enjoy while presenting the evidence that supports my conclusions and having something to write about weekly. Even grandpa’s letters home are tapering down and coming less often in the timeline of things. I hope my family forgives me for those dry and dull articles.

Uncertain about immigrating

Our ancestors must have been uncertain about immigrating from Europe to the United States or the long trek from the eastern states to the plains. These journeys, while having a high survivability rate, were full of dangers and risks. Risks that we cannot fathom today. Disease was a constant fear and could strike without warning. And the ultimate price was paid by many of them. But those who survived marched on. Still, despite these uncertainties, they continued to live their lives, faced the risks head-on, and worked hard. They took big chances just for the promise of opportunity somewhere else or to ensure success in any of their endeavors. Not once was their choice to stay at home and do nothing for fear of “the worst possibility.”

Uncertain about surviving war

Those ancestors who served during wartime must have been uncertain about their survival. They faced not only death from injury in battle, but disease, malnutrition, and hard camp life. Even those fortunate to serve far from the front line still had to make through the other hardships. Sleeping on cold hard ground with nothing but a wool blanket (if you were lucky) produced physical ailments later in life. Riding horseback was for officers and cavalry; the vast majority of early soldiers walked almost everywhere. If they traveled by train, it wasn’t first class, it wasn’t even economy class. It was in boxcars with no seats, no bathrooms, and no bar or cafe. The food was miserable. Today we have MRE’s (meals ready to eat) that may not always be tasty but is nutritious and filling. Even if all you had was MRE’s (no hot meals), it still beats early soldier fare. The worst of these hardships was during much earlier wars. Armies did their best to provide adequate rations to troops, but distance was always an issue. Food could only last so long before rotting or getting stale, so it was generally given in portions to last a few days. If rations ran out before the next issue, solders had to hunt or scour for roots (like beets or potatoes), raiding the nearest homestead, or settling on grass and tree bark soup. Today, we are oftentimes amazed when our loved ones come home from training or overseas, and they’ve lost weight. In many instances, this is due to a combination of high physical activity and low-fat meals. Back in history, it was due to malnutrition. Yes, I think soldiers faced quite a bit of uncertainty, the kind we can’t begin to imagine today.

Uncertain about surviving childbirth

Our matrons must have been uncertain when having babies; this simple act was the leading cause of death for women in early history, though not as high as we might think (one source says 1-2% around the 17th century). Of course, giving birth wasn’t that dangerous as much as it was what kind of aid you received and how healthy you were. Many medical journals attribute 18th and 19th maternal mortality to unnecessary interference by physicians (use of tools on the infant and poor hygiene) and point out that birth with the aid from professional midwives produced significantly lower death rates for both the infant and mother. I mean, men, right? LOL. Apparently, women feared childbirth enough to make out wills once they learned they were pregnant (though I don’t know if this is true, but claimed by one un-sourced article)! The more children a woman gave birth to, the higher her chances of not surviving the next one. So when we see our ancestral matriarchs who were able to have children in high numbers and into middle age (relatively speaking), then we can safely say she was one tough mamma.

Reflections on life’s uncertainties

Genealogy makes you think about all these uncertainties, and if you are lucky, it helps to bring perspective on our modern-day lives. Our challenges and hardships are nothing compared to what our ancestors faced, and modern technology, medicine, and tools takes care of the rest. We are living longer, surviving more diseases and disabilities, and are living better then our ancestors may ever have imagined.