Enquiring Minds Want to Know!
At one point in all of our lives we want to know a bit about where we came from. What countries did our ancestors live in or come from? What were their names and what was their journey through life like? Were they Rich? Famous? Scoundrels? Farmers? How might their lives have affected who I am today? How did some of our family traditions begin?
Until this digital age, it has been very difficult to for people to capture and preserve this kind of information. Family bibles and official records comprise most of what is now available for the average person who lived in past generations.
We now have the opportunity -- as no generation before us -- to capture and preserve the important parts of who we are to save & provide for the unborn generations who will have enquiring minds about us.
We now also have the capabilities of searching for records of old that can share insights into the lives that came before us, as many governing agencies are providing these old records in digital. We can incorporate the bits of information from these records into our "family story".
My example today is a record of one of my Revolutionary War ancestors, my 4th great grandfather, Titus Watson. Little information exists about him, but one very interesting record shares amazing insight into his later years of life -- his Revolutionary War Pension Application record from 1818, made available online from the Library of Congress (LOC).
Here are excerpts from the below document ...
"I own no real property whatever I [reside in] a house in Ballston in the County of Saratoga from [?] by my friends. I pay no rent for I am not able to pay any"
The valuation of all his worldly property is estimated $50.49. This includes:
Knives & forks, $1.75
3 old barrels, 37c
2 rakes 37 1/2c
Tea Kettle, $1
At the end he continues, "My wife is aged about 72 years old. I have a daughter living with me about 32 years. She is deranged and a great burden to me. I have no means of gaining a livelihood except from my pension and if taken from me I must depend on charity for support." It also provides his beautiful signature.
Just wow. I am so thankful that pension applications required official documentation, and I am indebted to the LOC for making this record available. It means so much to me to have this insight into his life.
In 100 years, what will be available to your descendants and others interested in knowing about your life? Will it be records like this -- that merely provide glimpses -- or will you take the time now to capture your write life / history in your own words that really explains who you were?