It’s time once again for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver. This week we have an opportunity to shine (pun intended) as our ancestors are featured on television!
Here is this week’s challenge:
1) Pretend that you are one of the subjects on the Who Do You Think You Are? show on television.
2) Which of your ancestors (maximum of two) would be featured on your hour-long show? What stories would be told, and what places would you visit?
I would choose two ancestors with very different life stories.
George Soule (c1602-c1679) is my one and only Mayflower ancestor and he happens to be one for whom an ancestral village and family are unknown.
I would want his story to begin in the town where he was born, learning the names of his parents and siblings and his own baptismal date. I’d also want to hear the reasons why he chose to leave England and make a very dangerous voyage across the ocean to an unknown destination and completely new way of life.
As his story was being told, I would be in his English home, listening to the political and religious issues of the day that caused the Pilgrims to leave.
Did George share the religious sentiments or was he more excited by the opportunity for a new life, however, dangerous it might be? He was not the “upper crust” of Pilgrim society, but came as a servant in the Edward Winslow family.
After hearing the English stories, we would travel to Plymouth, England to view the shore area from which the Mayflower sailed. If there is a replica ship at the docks, I’d take a tour and hear about the voyage across the ocean.
Back in the United States, I’d visit Plymouth, Massachusetts and the re-enactment destination of Plimouth Plantation. While there, I would hear about George’s new life in what became Massachusetts.
I’d learn about his wife, Mary Bucket/Becket and her family origins. The stories of their nine children would also be shared.
Finally, did he ever regret leaving England or was he pleased with the choices he made? Exactly when did he die and where was he buried?
My second ancestor would reflect my Rusyn heritage. I’d choose John Scerbak (1836-1916), who spent his entire life in the village of Ujak, Slovakia.
Not only would John’s life be highlighted, but stories of Rusyn culture and daily life would be shared. I’d love to hear about John’s parents and grandparents, the happiness and the devastation which they faced.
How did live change for John during the 1800s? How did he and other villagers feel watching the youth head off to America, not knowing if they would ever return home? Both of John’s surviving sons (only three of eight children lived to adulthood) left for America. Both visited home more than once, but one son – the eldest, John, eventually settled permanently in New Jersey.
What was daily life like in the village? How did they survive during epidemics? How were religious days celebrated? Did they travel much to other towns?
How was his life affected with all the political and governmental changes? He died in the midst of World War I. How was Ujak affected by drafting into the Austrian-Hungarian Empire army and the battles that took place in the region?
Of course, as I listened to John’s life story, I would be in Ujak and Hajtovka, the next village to the west, and would also want to travel the route taken to Hamburg, where they boarded ships for America.
Although America saw huge changes in its daily life during John’s lifetime (1836-1916), Ujak remained remarkably the same, as it didn’t even have electricity until the 1960s!
This was another fun challenge. Thanks, Randy!