Thursday, April 7, 2016

Genealogy is the never ending story with never ending records!

Genealogical research never gets to a point where you can say,"And they lived happily every after."  That only happens in fairy tales. In the real world life goes on. And on, and on, and  on! And records are created over and over and over. 

Do you really think that our ancestors had us in mind when they created the records we use today to find them? No, of course not. Do you think that that they  ever imagined that we would come looking for them? Did they care? Probably not. They were  too busy trying to stay alive. By staying alive I mean providing a safe place of shelter for themselves and their children. And occasionally in the process, they created records.  

Have you ever wondered if you could have survived in the world of our early ancestors? Could you set out for the unknown with just the possessions that would fit into a covered wagon. Travel through dense forests and mountain terrain? And in the case of northwest Ohio, through the Great Black Swamp. I can honestly say I don't think I would last a day! And I would have created very few records!

One branch of my family tree crossed the Ohio River shortly after the Treaty of Greenville was signed in 1795. At first they lived on the river bank and later moved inland to where the town of Amelia now sits in Clermont County, Ohio.
Within a few years my 3X great grandfather was killed by a falling tree leaving his widow and his young children to survive. As a result land, death, church and guardianship records were created. And a will was recorded.

When you read the history of that area one thing that stands out is the number of people who didn't survive. A birth record could, and many times did, create other records. And once again survival was involved. Many women did not survive childbirth. A death record of some sort was created. The child may have also died creating another record. Eventually most men remarried. Another record! The family would change on the next census with people missing and people added.

When a family moved to a new frontier, land records and tax records were created. The location of census records changed. Children were born and grew up creating school records and eventually marriage records. And the cycle of life's records  moved on. 

Day to day living on the frontier was a matter of survival. The husband left the homestead in search of wild game. Would he return? And when he returned would his family still be there to welcome him home? Wild animals, Indians, weather, highwaymen affected the lives of the early pioneers. And more records were created. 

Since these records were not created by our ancestors as a genealogy research source for their descendants, what was the purpose? Who really cared? The government! The government wasn't nosy. It just needed to count, tax, and represent our ancestors. There are reasons for all those little boxes on the census forms. The fact that these records are great sources of information for genealogists is purely coincidental. Every minute of everyday new records are created.

I have seen this statement many times - "When looking at a record you need to know why the record was created." I suppose that could be true. I prefer to look at an ancestor's life and ask "What records could they have created because of what was happening to them?" Be a detective. Look for the clues. The clues are the records that your ancestor might have created.


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