Sometimes when I’m really, really into researching a certain family or line I’ll realize that I am holding a grudge against a family member. Not sure what I mean? Here are two examples:
My 3rd Great-Grandfather Lightner West was killed in the Civil War. He left behind a widow, Sarah Elizabeth Moore West, and an infant son, Lightner Leander West, who he probably never met. Several years later, Sarah Moore West remarried to John Whitmire. In the 1870 census, she’s shown living with her husband John and her son “Lightner Whitmire.” For some reason, my first reaction was “Aw hell nah. That’s Lighter WEST.” Even though I know that a.) there’s no telling who gave that information to the census taker b.) nobody needed to be all up in their private business – I was miffed. I haven’t really researched Sarah Moore since then.
Yes, I have an irrational genealogical grudge against a war widow. Oops.
But my great-grandfathers aren’t immune, either. In the 1830 census, my ancestor William Cowen is shown as owning 10 slaves. So basically he had shown up from County Antrim, Northern Ireland in about 1820 and as soon as possible bought 10 slaves. Nice, Grandpa. Really nice.
As I was researching him, I noticed that in 1840 all of his slaves were gone. Mean little me thought, “So where are your slaves now, grandpa? Bought a few too many slaves for your britches, eh?” Of course, this was 1830 in South Carolina and – as abhorrent as it has always been – slave ownership was a fact of some people’s lives at that time. For all I know, William Cowen didn’t mismanage his estate, he had a change of heart. (Likely not, but you never know.) It’s silly to hold a grudge against him, too.
So, am I the only one to get miffed at my ancestors? Am I a little *too* into this? Tell me in the comments!
Post Update: Strangely enough, right after I wrote this, I came across this food for thought. Good point!
Also, this is my 30th blog post here at Jennealogy. Thanks for bearing with me and… Happy Detecting!