How We Found Our Ancestors Before There Were DNA Kits

My mother wrote an amazing book called “Christian Feero, Loyalist of New Brunswick, and His Decendants.” She and her cousin decided to track down their ancestry together. This was before everyone had computers or emails and such. These two amazing women visited cemetaries and wrote down birth and death dates, went to libraries to get as much information possible, and also called and visited with any remaining relatives who would talk with them.

Mom even put her aunt Ruby (Mom’s mother’s sister) to work on the phone calling up any relatives for more information. Aunt Ruby was tickled to help out, and in her way helped Mom get the information she needed.

Amidst of all this work, Mom found stories of ancestors that she had never heard before. One example that is both horrible and funny was this one about “Wicked Aunt Wildie.” Evidently she got her nickname from her way of handling situations; especially her husband.

As her story goes, her husband either did something or said something that aggravated her. She had made him his usual breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and coffee, which by the way he never finished. Why? Aunt Wildie picked up her heavy frying pan, and bashed his head in, which of course killed him. She dragged him out of the house, picked up a shovel and dug a grave. When she finished, she rolled him into it, shoveled all the dirt over it, and went back in the house to have a cup of coffee. Her relatives found out about Aunt Wildie’s husband, and no one ever said a word about it.

Every time I pick up Mom’s exellent book, I am in awe of all she did. Every living relative bought her book, and I believe that those who have her book cherish it to this day. Her epilogue at the end of the book still brings me to tears:

“How I wish I could write a book” my grandmother would sigh wistfully as she concluded an evening of recollections about her early life in New Brunswick.

In the dusk of summer evenings and in the lamplight that softened winter nights, Nannie rocked in her chair and re-lived her life aloud. I was her frequent listener – often a willing one – sometimes bored, but like all children, encouraging the diversion to postpone bedtime.

“Nannie’s stories” imprinted my childhood with second-hand memories of people, places and events. Nannie’s life become almost as real to me as my own.

Was I with them as children when she and her brother tethered little field mice to sticks and pretended they were their cattle? Was I berrying with them when the moose chased them? Did I cry when her only sister died? Did I touch the silken fabric of her garnet wedding dress? (It was patterned with tiny rosebuds). Did I feel the homesickness as a young bride far away from home, and the sadness of the loss of my firstborn child? Did my bones ache with fatique after long days of cleaning, washing and cooking for a family and a crew of hired men? Was it my laughter of hers that pealed at the antics of a neighbor or the comical expressions of a relative? Whose joy at births…whose sorrow at deaths?

Who really wrote this book?

Gloria Bullock, 1983″

 

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