Ancestors I’d like to have dinner with

The 41st edition of the Carnival of Genealogy poses an interesting question: If you could have dinner with four of your ancestors who would they be and why?

My first one would be my Grandma Johnson, because I miss her and would love to share a meal, some smiles, and some conversation.

The second would be my maternal grandmother. She died when my mom was only 8. I would love to meet her. I have one picture of her and she looks so loving.

Third would be my ever-elusive 3rd-great-grandmother Matilda Debolt Skinner Crossen Brown McFillen. I’ve managed to account for the demise of only one of her husbands (William Skinner); I don’t know what happened to the other three. Were there more? And what happened to her after she married J.W. McFillen?! She married him in Williams County, Ohio in 1886; after that, she falls off the face of the earth. I’d love to have her tell me about her life, her marriages, the different places she lived, and why in the world she keeps hiding from me!

The fourth one is tough. Do I go with one of my Civil War-era ancestors? Do I go with another elusive ancestor? As tempting as each of those choices is, I’m torn between my 4th-great-grandmother Elizabeth Peden Ramsey and my 5th-great-grandfather John McClelland, who was killed in 1782 in Col. Crawford’s ill-fated campaign in present-day northwest Ohio.

I think I’d go with Elizabeth. For some reason, she strikes me as a very strong woman. She is one of the few women recorded as having purchased land from the federal government in present-day Perry County, Ohio. Why did she, her husband John and son James move from Adams County, Pennsylvania to Perry County, Ohio? What did she think about moving? How did she make ends meet after John died?

So there are the four ancestors I’d like to have dinner with — two from the 20th century, one from the 19th century and one from the late 18th century. I think that would make for a very interesting girls’ night out.

Posted: January 23, 2008.

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