Week 5 – Life Experiences: Sometimes the challenges in life provide the best learning experiences. Can you find an example of this in your own family tree? Which brick wall ancestor are you most thankful for, and how did that person shape your family history experience?
My father's grandfather, Ambrose Clemens, was known as the one of the meanest men who ever lived. That was the reputation that followed him long after he died.
His talent was well-known. If someone told him they wanted a room built on to their house, or even a new house built, he would ask them how big they wanted it, how many rooms, etc. Then, he would calculate it in his head. He would secure the materials and get to work.
When he was finished, there would barely be a splinter left over.
People in Carter County, Kentucky still talk about how he was so talented as a builder. He probably would have been a wonderful engineer.
They also still talk about how mean he was.
Since I never met him, I wanted to try to figure out why he was so surly. I have no pictures. I heard he looked like Albert Einstein.
I began to look through my genealogy files for any clues relating to Ambrose's meanness. This is the only thing I could realy find:
1. His father, Francis, had to farm out his children because of the family's poverty, just as his own father, Benjamin had done to him.
2. His father, Francis, had married three times. Ambrose was the next-to-the last child in quite a large family. He just may have been another mouth to feed.
3. His grandfather, Benjamin, had been taken to court for cruelty to his wife, adultery, and beating his children.
4. Ambrose married Mary Ann Brown, and soon after his own children started coming in close succession. The first three were born in 1885, 1886, and 1887. Five years passed before the fourth and final baby was born. They were:
Etta Bee - born 1885
Richard Lee - born 1886 (my grandfather)
Ollie Orie - born 1887
Minnie Dorie - born 1892
Notice the 5-year gap between the last two children.
5. Ollie Orie died in Sep 1893, and just two months later, mother Mary Ann died.
Ambrose was now a single father with three very young children.
Ambrose continues to be found on censuses as a boarder, but never owning his own home or land. The children were farmed out to others, as he had been, and as his own father had been.
Life was not real good to Ambrose, but he went on. The children that lived turned out real fine, and they were kind. I enjoyed going to Aunt Etta Bee's and Aunt Minnie's. When my family moved from West Virginia to Ohio, they were stranded for several days in Portsmouth, Ohio. Aunt Minnie took them in without a thought and fed them well.
Sometimes we have to look at the whole picture of our ancestors. It's more than just a bunch of names and dates. It's "family history".