#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Curious

In my quest to fill in the family tree, I have found many documents for some ancestors, few for others. Many of those sources record vital statistics – birth, marriage, death. Others provide a little bit of information about what they did for a living and how much they were worth. Only rarely do we get a glimpse at their personal lives, such as newspaper mentions about their travels or activities.

I’m curious about how couples met and what their courtships were like. I met my husband at a science fiction convention through one of his best friends who I met via my work for the budding Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy). My parents met when my dad and his friends visited her church for youth functions.

My second great-grandparents on my maternal grandmother’s side, Isaac Pittman and Mosella Elizabeth Thompson married in April 1880. He was 38. She was 14.

Detail from the 1880 Census available on FamilySearch. The ages for Isaac and Elizabeth were both slightly off. She was listed as Betty in the 1870 Census, when she was 5 years old.

According to the 1880 Census, Isaac was a teamster, and so was Betty’s father. Did he go to work for or with her dad after they married, or was that how they met? Did she find him dashing? During their courtship, did they go dancing or take long walks together? According to information recorded by their daughter, the couple had a son, W.O. Pittman, born in December 1880, 33 weeks after the wedding. Was he born prematurely? Or did Isaac and Elizabeth have to get married?

My 3rd Great Grandmother on my paternal grandfather’s side, Frances Cook, never married, but she had eight children. I’m obviously curious about her paramour. Family lore has it that she had a longtime lover who fathered all her children. I’m equally curious about how the community treated her and the kids. Were they shunned by “decent” society?

Frances’ son, my ancestor John Cook, and one of his sons, John Cyle Cook, both ended up killed in separate shootouts. Would their ending have been different if they’d had a father at home?

I’m also curious about the artistic pursuits of my ancestors. I’ve always loved writing, and I wonder if any of those who preceded me wrote poems or made up stories. I’ve been involved in school and community theatre since 11th grade. Did any of my ancestors or cousins take part in plays, or could they play an instrument, or were they always asked to sing a song at family and community gatherings? This is the sort of thing that might show up in a short “community spotlight” kind of article in the newspaper, but so far, I haven’t found anything.

I will continue to mine the records for those little gems, the personal details that will help me not only understand my ancestors’ lives, but also how their genes shaped me in to the person that I’ve become.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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