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!!!
Barbara A. Brown
* Ms. Brown's "I Want" article was originally posted in 1994 to the National
Genealogical Conference, FIDO bulletin board forum.