Back in Time

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.

My grandfather, Willie M. Robinson, during WW1 in France.

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 Robinson, his wife Philomena, and four of their six children. Grandfather Willie is at far right.

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]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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17 Responses to Back in Time

  1. jbrayweber says:

    What a slippery slope. What if I went back in time and wanted to stay there? Start a whole new life in a whole new world. Try to make a difference with my knowledge of today. Wow. That’s an idea.
    I’m not sure who I’d want to spend time with. Of course, I would love to hang with my grandfather. He was such a special person to me. But I have no idea the details of any of my long-gone ancestors, which is sad. I am sure there are some that I would enjoy getting to know and learning from. It makes me sad that I don’t know more about them. Digging into the family tree will take loads of time. I hope to one day discover all those roots.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jbrayweber says:

    Also, love hearing about YOUR ancestors. It’s pretty amazing to know people of the past had dreams, hobbies, quirks, scandals, etc. Every one of them is worth knowing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, Gee, the time element never really occurred to me; I was going all ‘Twilight-Zone’ and assuming that none of my sands would be traveling down the hourglass while I was spending time in the past.
    I am very glad that you chose more than one because I could not make up my mind, either. The more I thought, the more interesting my relatives became. In fact, I am going to ask everyone to vote after my synopses tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John T Babb says:

    Good post, Jeff. I actually wrote a book about one of my great-grandfathers, but there were MANY holes to fill, as my knowledge of him was through two of his daughters -my grandmother and my great aunt. He was quite a character, and I’d love to hear what REALLY happened.


  5. I’ve already answered this question in detail earlier this week, but I have to say, I wonder if our grandparents ever ran into one another. Probably not, since my maternal grandparents were in Minnesota, and my paternal grandparents in Ireland and immigrated to Wisconsin. But it’s a thought. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. claycormany says:

    I’d definitely like to spend 2 weeks with my great-grandfather George Washington Cormany — but sometime after the Civil War. He fought for the North in the war, and saw action at The Battle of Stone’s River and at Missionary Ridge. I’ve read one account that said he was wounded at least once, but I can’t find any corroboration for that. I’d also like to meet my great aunt, Carrie Schmid, The two photos (taken in 1895 and 1903) I have of her show her to be a stunning beauty. I’d ask her about growing up as the daughter of a bakery owner and how she handled the many men who undoubtedly wanted to court her.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I think Dr. Robinson would be the one I’d enjoy speaking with. Don’t you know he had some stories to tell? I’d also like to talk to him about the cigar shaped UFO.

    Liked by 1 person

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