Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Way they Used to Do Things

April's Tree
Our Ancestors 'social safety net' wasn't the government, it was Each Other:

People living disconnected from all their relatives and apart from where all their ancestors were buried is a fairly recent phenomenon. I won't go into all the economic reasons that society is so fragmented, but must point out that welfare, social security, etc. are modern inventions.

Our ancestors depended on each other for help when they were sick, mutual defense when they were threatened, company when they rejoiced, and care taking when they were old and feeble.  They did not usually move without their social safety net. They moved as a group.

When my great-grandfather with his wife and children moved from Union County, Georgia in 1882, they traveled in a covered wagon along an established trail to Gentry, Arkansas. Siblings and cousins traveled with them, and other relatives were awaiting them.

When my 2xgreat-grandmother came over the Oregon Trail in 1864, her four children came with her. Three of them were married and brought their husbands and children, and husbands' brothers and their wives and children, and so on.

In census records, I look for related names. Finding them is part of the whole picture. Often, from the earliest Puritan records, down to Mormon converts in the 1800's, a family moved not only with their relatives, but when their faith was persecuted, they stuck together with others of the same faith.

So I consider it a good investment of my time to record not only my 'direct ancestors' but also their brothers and sisters and sometimes even their cousins.

I love working out the puzzles, hunting down the clues. It's the best game ever.

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