I just got off the phone after interviewing Elissa Scalise Powell about her upcoming appearance at NERGC (you can see that in a few days on the NERGC blog). While we were talking about genealogy we took a philosophical detour down the ancestral road.
One of the things we discussed was "Why do people have favorite ancestors?" How is it that people start researching the many ancestors they have and somewhere along the way they develop favorites? Basically you're selecting favorites among people you've never met.
Elissa mentioned that the ancestors who were the most puzzling often became her favorites. Also, the ones with good stories. Elissa has some really fascinating ancestors with interesting stories to tell.
I'll give you an example of one of my favorite ancestors. His name is David Turner Shaw and he lived from 1764-1856, dying in Bath, Maine. There are two things that make him one of my favorites. First, he was town clerk of Bath, Maine for over forty years. I just thought that was cool. Second, when he died in 1856, his wife of 63 years died exactly 7 days after him. I like to think that they had quite a pleasant marriage. In addition to having the start of a good story I felt connected to him because of these details.
So I want to ask you folks - Why do you have favorite ancestors? How did you select them?
As a complete aside, this conversation I had with Elissa demonstrates exactly why you should get involved with the genealogical community. As a volunteer for the New England Regional Genealogical Conference I had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with this amazing genealogist. Imagine being able to interact with genealogists who are helping to guide the next generation! By getting involved with local, or even national, genealogical organizations these kinds of opportunities appear. Not only did I have a fascinating conversation with Elissa on the phone but I'm really looking forward to seeing her at NERGC in April so I can continue the conversation.