Visits with Ancestors
By Jeff Salter
Topic: Is there a certain ancestor that you wish you could travel back in time to spend a year with? What do you hope to learn? Why that relative?
As our Monday Fox noted, this topic seems awfully familiar, though I could not track down a previous blog that matched it — in part or whole. If I can ever locate an earlier one, likely some of my points will be repeated.
But let me deal with the topic we have before us.
First of all, a disclaimer: I don’t think there’s any ancestor that I’d want spend a whole year with. I realize that may sound incredibly selfish of me, but I value my time and my projects too highly to just suspend everything and follow around a relative I’ve never met. [Are you shocked?]
So, to set the new ground rules – MY rules of this engagement – it would be two weeks instead of a year. And I’d want to spend time with THREE different grandfathers.
Willie M. Robinson was my mom’s father… he died a few months before I was born. I’ve always felt keenly that loss — that we didn’t even have a single moment together. He loved my older brother and he knew I was on the way. If I could spend a few weeks with Grandfather Willie, I’d ask him about his meeting with Fred Noonan – Amelia Earhart’s navigator – shortly before they took off on their ill-fated flight. What did Noonan want his help with? Did Noonan reveal anything about their plans to spy on Japanese military installations (a popular theory about their final voyage)?
I’d ask Grandfather Willie about his combat service in France during WW1. He was an amateur geologist and bought a lot of Alabama land which overlay the Smackover Formation — a massive oil reserve. I’d like to discuss his strategies and what his hopes were for striking oil on some of that property.
Dr. Amos N. Robinson was Willie’s father. He was a small town country doctor during the horse and buggy days. I’d like to ask him about his medical training and some of his medical experiences. I’d like for him to fully describe that cigar-shaped UFO that he saw — probably in about 1897. And I’d like to hear more about his famous experience with the vanishing hitchhiker – decades before that became an urban myth.
For more info on those two fascinating tales, check out my previous blog:
James A. Saulters (born 1832) was my father’s grandfather. He fought in the civil war, was captured by the Yankees and imprisoned. Later he was paroled and – as I understand it – he had to walk back home to middle Mississippi. I would like to ask about his war-time experiences… whether he volunteered to serve. I want to know more about the battles he fought in, and how / where he was captured. I want to know about his time as a POW and how long he was incarcerated before he was paroled. I’d like to know what “home” was like when he finally got there — or had his property been despoiled by the Yankees. There’s a family legend about one of my ancestors coming home after the Civil War and just starting over completely — in a new town with a new wife, etc. I wonder if that was this guy.
So even though I wouldn’t wish to spend a full year with these ancestors, I do think I’d enjoy about two weeks with each of these three. Then I could spend the other 46 weeks of that year writing about what I’d learned from them.
What about YOU? Any particular ancestor you’d like to spend some time with? How long?
[JLS # 552]