Notes from the past…


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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy Week #21: Ancestor Tales of Hardship

In genealogy, there are plenty of clouds in the form of sad stories and hardships faced by our ancestors. These tales should not be forgotten because descendants can learn from them. Share with us a particular ancestor’s hardship story. How did these events impact your life?

My McBurnett ancestors fought in several American wars. At least 3 McBurnetts died serving their country:

  • Thomas McBurnett- Private, Company B, Cobb’s Legion, Georgia Volunteers, CSA, died at age 21 in a military hospital in Richmond, Virginia on 6 Aug 1862.
  • Joshua McBurnett- Private, Company B, Cobb’s Legion, Georgia Volunteers, CSA, died at age 20 in a military hospital in Richmond, Virginia on 13 Jul 1863.

It is unknown whether brothers Thomas and Joshua McBurnett died from battle wounds or from disease.

  • Wesley Paul McBurnett- Private, Company K, 141st Infantry, USA, killed at age 22 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France on 8 Oct 1918.

What is the significance of these deaths, other than the emotional devastation brought on a parent by the death of a child?

Thomas and Joshua McBurnett could have contributed greatly to their family’s financial recovery following the Civil War. And Wesley Paul McBurnett… what might have been?

And how did these tragedies affect me?

To read about the Civil War and World War I is to read about facts. Dates, locations, troop strengths, casualty figures. Cold, impersonal, distant facts. It’s too easy to open a book, look at photographs and read text, and know about the Civil War. Or World War I.

Abstract knowledge.

But when some of the people who make up those troop strengths and casualty figures are family, with parents and grandparents and connections to me, then the facts are no longer cold, impersonal and distant.

Members of my family died in the Civil War.

A member of my family died in World War I.

My family.

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52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.