Last week on a late night talk show, the question was asked: "If you could have lunch with any three people in history, who would you pick?" That got me to thinking, and I bet most of you know exactly what it was I was thinking...
"If I could have lunch with any three of my ancestors, who would I pick?"
It was hard for me to choose just three, because I would love to hold a big banquet with many, many more in attendance. But, I finally made a list -- then changed it, then changed it again. So, after a week of thinking about it and changing my mind, here's my list of three:
1. My first choice would be Susan Emeline West Leffel. Susan Emeline West, daughter of Michael West and Susannah McKee, was born 3 Jun 1817 in Kentucky. Susan married David Miller Leffel on 3 May 1837 in Springfield, Clark, Ohio. Susan and David moved to Texas around 1858, when she inherited land from her father, Michael West. The Leffel's move to Texas would set in motion events that would eventually lead to David's death. Susan's husband, David Miller Leffel, was one of forty Union sympathizing citizens of North Texas who were charged with disloyalty and treason against the Confederacy by a “Citizens Court” in Gainesville, Cooke County in October 1862 and then hanged in what is called the Great Hanging at Gainesville.
After much study into the Gainesville Hangings on my part, I would like to talk to Susan about what she and her family really went through and what really happened. I would like to know if David was buried in the mass grave with many other victims of the Hanging, or if he is buried somewhere else. Why did she stay in Texas after the end of the Civil War? I would also like to know what happened to some of her siblings and their families. So many questions...
2. Second choice would be Rebecca Morgan Medlin. She is my 3rd great-grandmother and the mother of my 2nd great-grandma, Bettie Medlin Stewart. Rebecca died when Bettie was still an infant, so even Bettie did not know her mother. Rebecca is shadowy figure in my family history, shrouded in mystery and family legend. There are stories passed down about her being a Cherokee Indian and hiding out in the mountains when the Cherokee were driven out of Tennessee. Supposedly she was good with herbs and making her own medicines. Her mother may have been Indian and her father white. Other Indians may have killed her parents because her Indian mother married a white man. Do these stories have any truth to them? I have no idea. Was she related to the Morgans in Putnam County? Who were her parents? Where did she meet her husband and where were they married? So many unknowns in her life. Yes, I would definitely like to spend some time with great-grandma Rebecca.
3. My third choice would be Jane Baldwin, my third great-grandmother. She has tugged at my heart for years!! Not only can I NOT find enough records to know all the "who, what and why" of her life, but my heart cries for her. Jane experienced so much loss during her lifetime -- her husband and many of her thirteen children. By 1870 when Jane was about 65 years old, only TWO of her thirteen children are known to still be living: James M. and Francis Marion. Jane's other eleven children were already deceased or their whereabouts completely unknown. Texas was definitely not kind to the Baldwin family! But through it all, Jane did not lose faith in God -- In 1854, she was a founding member of the "Little Flock Baptist Church."
There are so, so many questions I would really like to ask Jane. What happened to this child or that child? Where did she grow up? What is her maiden name? Who were her parents and grandparents? Where did she meet her husband and where were they married? Were they happy and did they have a good marriage? What was it like living in Texas in those early days? The list could go on and on and on.
If you could pick three ancestors to have lunch with, who would you pick?
Do you even know who three of your ancestors are?
Now is the best time in history to get involved in genealogy and family history, so many records are accessible right from your own computer. And, many records are free -- FamilySearch.org adds free records daily to the billions of records they already have! Get started and have fun! Find those three ancestors you would love to meet for lunch.