Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On our Amazing, Ordinary Ancestors

This morning I am again caught up in the wonder of our amazing Colonial ancestors.

They were ordinary, in the sense that their lives paralleled lives of people in England in most ways. They raised crops and ate what was in season. (There were no other choices.) They spun wool and wove cloth, or traded with weavers for cloth, but few could afford tailor made clothing. For transportation, they walked. Men usually had a horse, or a horse-powered farm cart, but few could afford a carriage and carriage horses. Boats were popular for transportation on bays and rivers, but again they were powered by oars and human muscle, and larger boats by sails and human muscle.

In these things and countless more, American Colonials and their European counterparts lived congruently, according to the customs and technology of their times. In their thoughts and beliefs, and how they acted on them, the Colonials were amazing.

They were hauled into court, fined, imprisoned, for disagreeing with the state church of England. Their preachers became wanted men, who escaped from England by hiding their identities. Undeterred, they established towns in the New England wilderness where they could practice their religion unhindered by the government. Of course, being only human, they quickly repeated the faults they had fled. Good Puritans - those who rejected the Roman trappings of the Anglican church, were welcome nearly anywhere. But Quakers were hung in Massachusetts, and at the other end of the religious spectrum, Catholics were persecuted too.

As proven by their all too human failings, our Colonial ancestors were ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. For all their similarities to their English counterparts, early Colonials had no luxuries and often lacked for enough food or shelter. Some few returned to England. The majority remained and built what is today America on a foundation of faith, determination and courage, not to mention raw materials of unequaled abundance, and crucial help from indigenous tribes.

My ancestors were amazing, ordinary people.

1 comment:

GoldiBear said...

What an interesting observation, and so well described. Our Colonial ancestors were whole-hearted, determined, courageous and strong.

Perhaps it was the sum of these qualities, taken to the extreme, that caused them to err in persecuting those whose religious beliefs were contrary to their own. Since they were almost continually in a battle for survival in the land, that may have contributed to a mindset causing them to be more quick to view retaining their religious beliefs as a battle for survival, also.

Thanks for the post! You've got me thinking, Pandababy!!