Working on writing biographies on WikiTree has forced me to add documentation to my online public tree on Ancestry.com. I like this. I’m working on Colonial families in Massachusetts and New Hampshire at the moment, all ancestors of the Lewis family. There are Pages and Adams and Parker and Fletchers and Tarbells and Tarbles and Doles, and many more. They start in the 1600’s, which can make things difficult. I can only follow the males in the census records, and some of those are hard to differentiate because so many names were reused. Those Pilgrams knew all about reusing and recycling. They were “green” before the whole idea of saving the ecology became important. It was important, but for very different reasons.
I find myself wondering over and over how we managed as a species to survive. Some of these families were huge. There were few doctors and their knowledge of sepsis and how infections are spread was scanty at best, totally lacking at worst. Yes, infants and mothers died, but it’s surprising to me how many lived.
The wonderful thing about doing all this documenting is that the information I found on all the Tarbell and related families on various now no longer found websites has been put on Ancestry.com. There are images of old, old books with spidery, hard to decipher handwriting. It’s awesome to see names with “S” spelled with “F”‘s instead. It feels real. Just like seeing the names of my 4th great grandparents written on a census document by someone who actually talked to them while said grandparents were alive.