Well, I have taken about a month’s break from “doing” family history. I currently have 1,832 persons from the past and present that I have identified as “family.” They carry dozens of different surnames, and go back hundreds of years, but for some reason, about a month ago I just stopped working on the project. I don’t know – maybe somewhere deep inside my brain, I somehow thought that maybe the tree was big enough or something.
The programs I use are Ancestry.com and Family Tree Maker. Part of the gimmick in the programs is that a relative or ancestor will show up on the family diagram with a little “leaf” by the name, which lets you know that somewhere, “they” – whoever “they” are, in their computer stuff found another clue or picture, or piece of data that you can click on, which sends you down the rabbit hole hunting for new bits of information about people you have never met.
For instance, in my tree hangs a woman named Margaret Cole (maiden name). Margaret was born in 1610 in Suffolk, England – so we can expect that “Maggie” has a few years under her belt. 411 to be specific. Well, for some reason, Margaret immigrated to the colony of Massachusetts and in 1643, married Henry Dow, who was the first in my family to come to the new world, probably in 1636. (Dow was my paternal grandmother – Grannie’s – maiden name.)
Well, it looks like Margaret and Henry settled in Ipswich, which is close to the coast, northeast of Boston. The town probably had around 4,000 at that time. Oh, I forgot to mention that Henry was first married to a widow named Joan Nudd in England, and immigrated together, but then she died in early on during their life in the colony, and so it was that Henry married Margaret.
Well, Henry and Margaret apparently moved to New Hampshire colony, where Henry died in 1659. Margaret would have been about 49, and apparently still quite a looker, because less that two years later, she married Richard Kimball (no, not the guy from the tv series). Oh, I forgot to mention that Margaret was first married to Thomas Dewey in 1639, but then he died, and four years later, she became Mrs. Dow.
Well, Richard also died, and Margaret still had some gas in the tank, it seems, so she married once again a “Mr. Clark,” back in Massachusetts, and then died in 1676. Now, I believe that Henry’s firstborn, who is part of my direct line – is Thomas Dow, my 7th great-grandfather, and his mother, I think, was Joan. So all the rest of that clan are step-whatsits, and yet they still get included in the tree, sort of the way you graft an apple branch so you can grow different sorts of apples on the same tree. Now, trying to keep things a little purer than otherwise, I haven’t chased down Margaret, Richard, Thomas, or Mr. Clark, but there they are, hanging around with a little “leaf” by their names, ready to be clicked on and explored, even though they are only related by a second, third or fourth marriage.
Of course, there are no photographs, but I can only guess that Margaret must have been a looker, even in her later years – either that, or she was pretty friendly with the guys, because that is just a whole lot of husbands chalked up to one woman…
And that is only one – six – entries in my tree. I can go back further than my 33rd great-grandfather in France.
So, I took a break, and just let those little leaves stack up across the generations. I guess, though, that it’s time to work on it some more. Not much is happening this summer, and with the heat up in the mid-90s now, and no rain, I’m not going to probably sit outside and watch the grass get browner, so this is a good avocation, and who knows who else I might meet?
I mentioned in yesterday’s column that there most likely more things to know than we will ever know in our lives. In one narrow slice, like family history, that plays out so true. I guess I would just encourage you seek out something you don’t know, and learn. It doesn’t really matter how old you are – look at ol’ Margaret – but you and I both know that knowledge, information, trivia, life-changing news is simply waiting for us to open the book, open the computer, or just click on the leaf to discover something that very well can enhance our lives, and deepen our understanding of ourselves and our world. Enjoy the hunt – enjoy the moment you can say, “Wow – I really never knew that before…”
Word for the day: wigged-out. You know how to pronounce this one. This is a fun root of a word. Of course, originally, the part of the phrase, “wig” was what you wore to change the way you look. It’s actually a shortened word for “periwig,” which is a covering of hair for the head. It comes from the French perruque, which meant just that, but also named someone with a natural full head of hair.
In the mid-1900s, “wig” became a word that defined, not your head, but your mind, and to “wig-out” was to lose your head, or rather, lose your composure or even your reasoning. To “flip one’s wig,” like “flip one’s lid,” meant to become unsettled or angry about something.
It’s also interesting that the phrase, “bigwig,” goes back to the nobility or people in power in the 17th century in Britain. The “bigwigs” did just that – they would wear huge and ornate wigs, almost to the point of silliness, as a symbol of power and office. Bigwigs today may not wear something on their heads, but you can be guaranteed that they feel their own sense of power – even if they act foolish.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.