Who Knew? It Turns Out Grandma Did!
Recently I became aware of a familial connection to a Mayflower Pilgrim. Apparently Great (times 10) Grandpa, George Soule, way back in the line was an indentured servant on the ship when it made that legendary landing at Plymouth Rock.
It seems ironic to me that I grew up in a family that celebrated those adventurous pilgrims each year with elaborate dinners and big family gatherings yet most of us, myself included, were unaware of how close to home that celebration truly was. Never once, not a single solitary time, was it ever mentioned to me growing up that we were Mayflower descendants. It seems this interesting tidbit of family lore was deemed unimportant somewhere along the way and no one talked about it until the information was in danger of being lost.
The Value of Asking Questions and Sharing Stories
When asked about it, my Grandmother, the Mayflower descendant, admitted that she had heard of the information growing up. It was no big surprise to her. She was aware of the information all along. Here she was in her late eighties sitting on this interesting piece of family lore.
This instance makes it painfully obvious how important it is for each generation to make an effort to preserve and share the information on our heritage for future generations. We need to lay stones in our wake for our own descendants to eventually trace and follow. We need to tell the stories and share the knowledge so that it’s not lost.
Researching into the ancestors in this forgotten family line has led to many discoveries and connections. I have found connections to Lizzie Borden, and Abraham Lincoln. I located ancestors who founded towns, served in government, and built buildings that still stand hundreds of years later. One line turned up the lost heirs to an English estate. All these discoveries were a breath away from being lost and had already been basically forgotten in my family line.
Grandma Buried Her Skeletons
Occasionally brick walls are built by our ancestors on purpose, that was the case with one of my paternal Great Grandmothers. She lived until I reached adulthood and I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time asking about her past. To say she was not forthcoming is to make an understatement. Her opinion was if everyone knew all the things she had done in her past no one would like her. I would pry; she would hesitantly provide little details, but it was like pulling teeth. It took me years to crack some of the brick walls in her family.
My Great Grandmother had escaped an abusive husband early in life. According to her she smacked him in the head with a skillet, snatched up the baby, and didn’t quit running till she hit Iowa…from Arkansas. She remarried, her husband adopted her only child, and her ex husband never gave her any problems after that but I’m sure she had a rough time surviving during those years as a single mother. I have to assume because she was unwilling to discuss it. I have heard family rumors she resorted to prostitution, there are whispers of running alcohol during the prohibition years, but she was unwilling to tell so large periods of her life will likely forever remain a mystery. Whatever dark secrets she had Grandma took to the grave with her.