Taking the time to learn about your family's world
I wanted to see how my family lived, what was going on in the world around them at the time. I wanted to know what they read in the newspaper, what their daily life was like, what they ate, what they drank, how they died. And suddenly, I had a real reason to be interested in history.
I'll admit now that I was embarrassed to be so ignorant of history. But I'm learning stuff, such as if you had an ancestor who died in 1799, they couldn't possibly be in the war of 1812. It's kind of amazing how much bad information is in genealogical pages, just because people have made mistakes like that.
My ancestors in Southern Minnesota led me to find out more about their *Little House on the Prairie*. And real history is always much more complicated than what we imagine, or what we saw on TV or in the movies. And many times what starts out as painting a cheerful picture of *the good old days* reveals some terrible stuff, such as the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. If you had family in the Mankato area in 1862, this is part of the background of their lives.
Personally, I want to know it all. I don't like my history all *cleaned up*, or simplified. And I like to be able to draw my own conclusions. The internet is filled with people who want to tell you what to see, not where to look. But taking the time to see takes a lot of time, and many people are unwilling to do that. There are so many shortcuts nowadays, that allow you to build your family history with a few mouse clicks, without really learning anything. But taking the time to really understand is much more fulfilling, and is a real journey of discovery.
Pictured above: my gggrandmother Perlicia Jane (Parker) Hall. Her eyes would have seen the horror of life in Kentucky during the outbreak of the Civil War, and the hardships of a life in a lonely prairie in Southern Minnesota in the 1860s and 1870s. She died at age 29.
Posted by Brad Hall