Finally got around to watching Who Do You Think You Are?, and something Sarah Jessica Parker said, just didn’t ring true to me. She was talking about her ancestor who had been accused of being a witch during the times of the Salem witch trials, and she stated that it changed everything she’d ever felt about her self.
I’ve been doing research on my family tree for 20+ years. Here are some of my notable ancestors:
One ancestress died having an illegal abortion. She died of blood poisoning.
One ancestor was a horse thief.
One was a Baptist Minister.
One was a Prisoner of War and lost part of his arm fighting in the Civil War.
One was AWOL and never went back. He walked home from battle and never looked back. When it was time to apply for his pension, he did so with pride of his service and wasn’t ashamed of the fact that he left in the middle of a battle field, with several rifles, a blanket and enough food to make it several days travel.
One was an indentured servant.
Several owned slaves. One was a slave trader-a very profitable slave trader.
Many were tenant farmers. Too poor to even own the clothes on their backs.
Some left their country of origin because they were being religiously persecuted. Some left because they had been the persecutors and it was no longer popular to persecute.
They were sinners, saints, rich, poor, handymen, untrained, educated, uneducated. My ancestors were arrested, or the ones doing the arresting. I come from everyman. But who my ancestors were does not define who I am. Finding out who a new ancestor or ancestress is, and what they did, or what they lived through, does not change me. I am who I was today, yesterday, and I will always be that person. Who do I think I am? I am me. My ancestors did mold the person I became, sure they did. My religious ancestors, raised religious children who in turn raised me. My ancestors with work ethics passed those down to me as well. My ancestors with a strong sense of right or wrong passed those down to me as well. Some of those traits are genetic, I believe and I think I act the way I do because of them, not because I know who they were, but because I am inbred to believe and behave a certain way. Part of it is environment. Part of it is temperament.
Would it be cool to have an ancestress at Salem during the witch trials. Sure, what genealogist doesn’t want to tie into such a major historical event. But to say that it would change how I perceive myself? I don’t think so. But then I can’t speak for Sarah Jessica Parker. I have always had both roots and wings. She hasn’t. Thankfully now, she has.