I'm not sure if I mentioned this here, but I also signed up for a sign language program at the local university and enrolled in a couple of classes for next fall. It's a certificate program for people who already have a college degree and is supposed to be intense enough to prepare you for interpreter certification at the end. I've taken some light sign language classes in the past, so I'm sure I'll really like it. After suffering a bit of a disability over the last two years, I think doing something to give back is the right thing to do.
And I'm getting excited about my next series. It's historical fiction very loosely based on the lives of my great-grandparents living in Appalachia. I signed up for Ancestry.com to see what I could find.
This is just a sprinkling of the original documents I found:
- The marriage bond of my great-grandparents. Yes, bond - it stated the ancestors would be entitled to $1500 if the marriage stuck. Was there a problem with divorce in the early 1900's? It's a little confusing. Maybe I read it wrong.
- The birth and death certificate of my mom's little sister. The family story is she died of SIDS, and I was under the impression she was about a year old. She actually was three months old and died of pneumonia. The death certificate read that it took three to four days before she died.
- The WWI military registration for my grandfather's dad. There was a place on the form where he had to describe himself physically - short, black hair, blue eyes - just like my grandpa.
- Lots of census records where names were spelled wrong. My great-grandpa's name was Jud. On one of the forms, it was listed as Judson - the next field on the form asked the relationship, son. The census worker filled out the forms and some of them were better than others at deciphering the Appalachian dialect (serious drawl). One of Jud's sisters was named Esther - it was listed as Easter, which may be how they pronounced it.
- Individuals who were Native American were listed as white.
- All the families had lots and lots of babies, one after the next. No one went to college, many didn't finish high school, and some couldn't read.
I'm thinking the census records aren't necessarily reliable - even last names were spelled wrong. Interesting to read though. A lot of my ancestors listed their occupation as farmer. They did have farms - I have the pictures - but had to work hard to get anything to grow in that region. They weren't like today's farmers - they were mostly farming to keep their families alive.
My great-great grandfather's occupation is listed as carpenter, which gels with the family story. I've been told he was legally blind, although the census document said he wasn't. Odd what they collected on the forms.
I'm letting all of it sink in (and plot develop in my mind) and hope to do more research this week - but not today - I need to keep writing and editing my WIP. Must stay focused.
Have you researched your ancestors?