If Your Ancestors Are Boring…

There are no “boring” ancestors. Everyone has a story to tell and one person’s “boring” is someone else’s “not-so-boring.” For those who leave behind fewer records and stories that on the surface seem more mundane, have you learned about:

  • the times in which they lived?
  • what likely employment they had?
  • the tools or their job or household (estate inventories are great for this)?
  • what life was like for someone in their situation?
  • what historical events actually impacted their life?
  • etc.?

The answers to those questions may not reveal a great Greek tragedy, but the result can be the development of more insight into your ancestor’s life.  It may also increase the chance that you actually learn more specific details about your ancestor’s existence.

Not every relative lived a life full of drama. There’s something to be said for that. Sometimes that’s the more difficult life to lead. And it’s often the more difficult life to research.

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5 thoughts on “If Your Ancestors Are Boring…

  1. Polly Blank

    Since a lot of my family were farmers, I find it interesting to find them on the Agricultural Census records and find out what crops they grew. I believe somewhere there are records on how much fabric the “farm” produced, probably the wife and/or kids did that. Also inventory records in their Probate shows how “poor” or affluent they really were. Can you count how many spoons you actually have in your kitchen? Many of them had less than 10 or so. It adds interest to their lives.

    Reply
    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      I’ve used the agricultural census for the exact same reason. It can provide an overview of the family’s farm operation and provide a broad perspective on whether or not their individual farm was different from those of their neighbors.

      Reply
  2. Carla

    There’s nothing boring about the people that have gone before us.
    I write stories based on my research for others. Some people have family that were farmers in the Great Depression. They lived through the dust bowl. You know that some folks set the table with the glasses turned upside down. They learned it from parents that were children of the depression. Putting the glasses and plates upside down when you set the table keeps the dust off them for a while. Nothing like chewing grit!
    Look at pictures of early settlers homesteads in eastern Nebraska. I can spot a Nebraska homestead house in pictures right off. The chimneys were always made to a certain configuration.
    How about the habits of the folks mining in Central Colorado in the late 1890’s. People living up there in this arid region of the Rocky Mountains brought their seaside diets from the Cornwall coast and used local ingredients to continue to make things like pasties and boiled puddings.

    That’s the whole point of genealogical research. To find out how people lived “back then,” whenever your “back then” is!

    Reply
    1. Jaye

      Haha! Yes! I can relate to upside down cups, and the reason you propose makes perfect sense.

      My forebears are proving endlessly interesting. Farmers, lawyers, doctors and everyone.

      Reply

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