September 5, 2014
Yep -- I want ancestors with names like Rudimentary Montagnard or Melchizedick von Steubenhoffmannschild or Spetznatz Gianfortoni, not William Brown or John Hunter or Mary Abbott.
I want ancestors who could read and write, had their children baptized in recognized houses of worship, went to school, purchased land, left detailed wills (naming a huge extended family as legatees), had their photographs taken once a year -- subsequently putting said pictures in elaborate isinglass frames annotated with calligraphic inscriptions, and carved voluble and informative inscriptions in their headstones. I want relatives who managed to bury their predecessors in established, still-extant (and indexed) cemeteries.
I want family members who wrote memoirs, who enlisted in the military as officers and who served in strategically important (and well documented) skirmishes. I want relatives who served as councilmen, schoolteachers, county clerks and town historians. I want relatives who 'religiously' wrote in the family Bible, journaling every little event and detailing the familial relationship of every visitor.
In the case of immigrant progenitors, I want them to have arrived only in those years wherein passenger lists were indexed by National Archives, and I want them to have applied for citizenship, and to have done so only in those jurisdictions which have since established indices.
I want relatives who were patriotic and clubby, who joined every patrimonial society they could find, who kept diaries, and listed all their addresses, who had paintings made of their horses, and who dated every piece of paper they touched. I want forebears who were wealthy enough to afford, and to keep for generations, the tribal homestead, and who left all the aforementioned pictures and diaries and journals intact in the library.
But most of all, I want relatives I can find!!!
Note that Ms. Brown's "I Want" article was originally posted in 1994 to the National Genealogical Conference, FIDO bulletin board forum. This article also appeared in IIGS Newsletter August 1998 with her permission. Ms. Brown offers lookups in Who's Who books from 1901 to 1978 and Social Register Directories from 1917 to 1971. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org