Friday, February 01, 2008

Who, What, When, Where, Why?

If you could have dinner with four of your ancestors who would they be and why? That question, suggested by footnoteMaven, is the topic for the upcoming edition of the carnival of genealogy. What a challenging question. And how do you decide which ancestors you would dine with? Various scenarios have been meandering through my brain since Jasia announced this carnival two weeks ago. Other questions were also posed: Would you have dinner in the present day or in one of their eras? Would you dine out or opt for a home cooked meal? What would you discuss at the dinner table? What would you most like to share with them about your life?

At first, I thought maybe I would pick four of my "roadblock" ancestors to get the scope on their lives and activities. But then as I reviewed my database I thought "there are too many, no way I could pick just four of them." Besides, that would take all of the fun out of finding the information myself. Hah!

So, instead, we're going to have a family reunion. The four ancestors that will be the honored guests are my grandmother, Hazlette Aileen Brubaker Phend Dunn Ferguson, her father Charles Romain Brubaker, his mother Malissa Mariah Joslin Brubaker Bower, and her parents Lysander and Lydia Joslin. I know, that's five. But I never think of Lysander without Lydia, so I consider them as one. And heck, since it's going to be a family reunion any family member who wants to attend will be welcomed with open arms! Spouses, children, siblings, cousins - let them all come. But they each must bring a "covered dish" for the carry-in dinner at noon as well as family photographs and memorabilia to share afterwards.

Where will it be? Should we go to Kansas? To Lyndon, where Lysander and Lydia lived the last eight years of their lives? Or maybe to Odin in Barton County where they lived for the 12 years or so prior to moving to Lyndon? No, neither of those places will do. Instead, we'll have it at the old Joslin homestead in Troy Township, Whitley County, Indiana. That's where Lysander and Lydia spent more than 30 years together and where they had their 15 children.

Okay, so do we go back to Lysander and Lydia's time or bring them forward to ours? I think we'll bring them forward. They probably won't recognize their old place though. The log cabin has been long gone. As is the school house that was built on a small corner of their property. It's probably the same school where their children learned 'readin, 'riten, and 'rithmetic. The houses being built on the sub-division on their land would certainly amaze them. I'm sure they would wonder why people need such big houses. Does everyone have hired help to keep all that space clean? They must have a lot of children to fill up those houses. I'm sure Lydia would have a lot of questions about the housekeeping chores. And Lysander would want to see how the houses were built.

Malissa would also be amazed at the changes to The Goose Lake Farm where she lived with her husband, William Brubaker, for over 40 years. She would probably recognize the house although it has been freshened up some recently with a new roof and siding. But all of the out-buildings that my grandmother described have been torn down. The only building on the farm now besides the house is a very large pole barn. The fields are easily plowed with large tractors. And it only takes a few days to bring in the crops. I think we'd have the reunion in the fall, so they could see how the harvest is done nowadays. In fact, we'll have the reunion on October 10th, Lydia's birthday.

It would be nice if all of Lysander and Lydia's children could make it to the reunion. We'd sure like to know what happened to their son John. We'd take a drive around the old neighborhood. We'd have to visit Adams cemetery to pay respects to Lysander's grandfather, Bela Goodrich, and leave some flowers on the graves of the four young daughters of Lysander and Lydia - Mary Jane, Elsy Ellen, Esther, and Lillian Arvilla. We'd go to South Park Cemetery so Malissa could see the nice gravemarkers that were put on her and William's grave, and that of her son Hale.

I'd spend some time alone with each of the honored guests, just to be with them. I'd like for grandma to know that "at least one" of her grandchildren has read her story and appreciates that she took the time to write it down for us. And that I picked up the torch she left behind. I think she'd be pleased to learn of what I've discovered of our ancestors. I'd be sure to let Lysander and Lydia know how much we all enjoyed their letters to Malissa.

Sure, there are some questions (some? make that a lot!) I'd like to ask and I'm sure they would have some questions for me too. Did Lysander's father, James, up and leave the family? Why did James sell that land to his sons when they were so young? Did Lysander's mother, Abigail, move to Henry County, Illinois and marry Samuel K. Pingree? When did Abigail die, and where? What happened to Lydia's mother, Anna, after the death of Lydia's father, Henry Robison, in 1852? Does Lydia know who her grandparents were? Who were the parents of Anna and of Henry? Where did they live and die?

I'd ask grandma's "papa" Charles to tell a little more about his experiences in Cuba during the Spanish-American War and I'd want to know where he served during World War I. Why did he move to Mississippi? Did he really live on a houseboat in Pascagoula? Was he actually the gamblin' man we've been lead to believe? Oh, there are so many questions, and I know there won't be enough time in just one day to ask them all. Hmm, I think maybe this reunion will have to be a multi-day affair....


Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

"Besides, that would take all of the fun out of finding the information myself. Hah!" LOL I agree with you, but only other genealogist could see banging our heads against brickwalls as fun. I like the idea of a covered dish reunion.

Becky Wiseman said...

I'm not much of a cook and I couldn't see asking someone else to cook everything so I thought why not share the task. Carry-in dinners usually provide great variety too ;-)

Colleen said...

Very good idea, to have a family reuniont. Nice way to cheat without cheating!

I'm going to have to steal Apple's "Head banging against brickwalls as fun" thing for my Only in Genealogy blog!


I would love to see a photo of
Goose Lake, sounds liek a neat place to me. Is there a Henry Co.
in Illinois, I think I missed
that county in my search in IL.
Thanks for Posting!

Tex said...

This is a well-traveled group--London to Cuba. Sounds like fun.