Saturday, September 19, 2009

Genea-Musings Ahnentafel Roulette-Great Grandma Ward

One of my favorite genealogy blogs posted this "assignment" tonight and I thought I would post mine here. It's one of the perks of having my own blog, I can talk about whatever I want :)

Here are the directions:
1) How old is your father now, or how old would he be if he had lived? Divide this number by 4 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

2) Find the person with that number in your ahnentafel. Who is that person?

3) Tell us three facts about that person with the "roulette number."

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook note or comment, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then spin the wheel again - pick your mother, or yourself, a favorite aunt or cousin, or even your children!

The person with my roulette number is my Great Grandma, Elizabeth Taylor Ward. She's a pretty interesting lady but her story has been touched upon here before, at least I think it has. Three facts about her are:

1-Her life's story is actually what brought on my passion for genealogy and apparently she had that interest in family history as well. She applied to DAR in the 1950s and the story goes that she came home very upset at having her application denied due to some missing dates. So upset in fact that she threw her work into the fire. All of her work, all of her knowledge was lost and I've spent years trying to reconstruct it, with quite a bit of success. Her MA and PA roots are extensive and interesting. They include one of our family's links to the Mayflower, by which my mom was able to join the Mayflower Society. They also include our link to some really incredible Salem, MA families, including those linked to what is now known as the Witch House. Her PA ancestors go back to Philadelphia in the 1700s (probably farther, I just haven't gone back myself beyond that yet) and a Captain John McKeever, who offered aid to the American allies during the Revolution. Ironically, it is the info relating to those who were closest to her, her father and brother in particular, that I'm still missing. Information that she could easily have provided and info that would surely, and clearly, have been included on her DAR application paperwork. (This brings us to #2)

2-She had a brother, Raymond, who I have attempted to track in the hopes that he would have living family who could tell me what happened to their father after 1911/1912 when he kicked Elizabeth out of the house for being pregnant. At that time, they were living in NYC and George Ward was a pretty common name, as was his occupation (mechanical engineer, engineer, and other variants). Unfortunately I have lost track of Raymond after 1942 when he filled out WW2 draft paperwork from New Hampshire. Prior to that, he had been living in Nassau, NY so why and when he came to NH is unknown.

3-Grandma Ward was described by my mom as a fairly bitter woman (to put it nicely), I believe rightfully so considering the events of her life. Her mother died when she was about 13, she got pregnant 6 years later, her father kicked her out of the house, the father of her child married someone else and then died, she eventually married a man who turned out to be abusive, and then she had to run half-way across the country to get away from him. She and her daughter, my grandma, settled in the Chicago suburbs and remained there for the rest of their lives.

So I'd say that gives her a right to be bitter and generally not a cheery person. I never got to meet her, she died just a few years before I was born, but I do know that she was completely devoted to her daughter. I inherited an opera book from my grandma with an inscription from her mother on the inside front cover and it's really the only thing that I have to show what kind of person Grandma Ward really was. She wrote a few lines of Emily Dickinson to her daughter:

"She ate and drank the precious words
Her spirit grew robust,
She knew no more that she was poor,
Nor that her frame was dust.
She danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings.

To my Isa on her 19th birthday."

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