Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Family Bibles, D. A. R.
and Other Pathfinders


Before I forsake further recounting of this month's research goal—confirming information on Elizabeth Ambrose Flowers' parents—as slipping into the realm of genealogical sausage-making, there is one more observation to make. In the face of a dearth of accessible records for Mathias Ambrose's late-1700s time frame and final residence in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, I am certainly grateful for those "pathfinders" who have shared what records they were able to assemble.

One of such pathfinders is the group of families who were dedicated to keeping records of their own family's births, marriages, and deaths in the form of a family Bible. Sometimes passed down through the generations, such entries may turn out to be the only record of these events. The willingness to share what essentially is a gift passed down through generations qualifies as a genealogical kindness, in my opinion. Tax records or census records may show us who lived where and when, but they don't necessarily demonstrate relationships; they don't connect generations. Barring wills—complete with explicit identifications not only of names but relationships—documents from that early era of national history lack the very essence of what we family history researchers seek. I so appreciate those families conscientious enough in their care of the family Bible to benefit future generations.

Another group we seldom think of as pathfinders is the Daughters of the American Revolution. While we rightly recognize the D.A.R. as a lineage society—perhaps the most recognizable name among such organizations—due to their willingness to share the one hundred and thirty years worth of genealogical documentation of which they have become caretakers, they, too, have become valuable pathfinders. Their stewardship of this national treasure has made it possible for any researcher to find records—often privately held, such as the family Bibles I mentioned earlier—from an era in which ancestors' life trajectories might not have come to the attention of the catalog-keepers of life we've become accustomed to in our more modern time frame.

There are, of course, other pathfinders who have done their small part to make a difference for the rest of us researchers. I think here of the many volunteer posts, ever since we've had computerized communication: from the days of media such as "listservs" and electronic bulletin boards, to the more widely-organized websites such as the erstwhile Rootsweb or the GenWeb network. Even the more official establishments, such as, have been inventive in the ways they can share resources of yesterday's pathfinders—for instance, in their digitizing of both published and unpublished genealogy manuscripts, which can be found through their search mechanism online under "books."

It is through these scattered mentions online of the Ambrose family that I've been plodding, over the past several days. It's likely that that process will continue for the rest of this month—hence, the risk of falling into the realm of "genealogical sausage-making." Besides this, thanks to the documentation at D.A.R. for the lines of two Ambrose descendants, I'm checking the lists and verifying what's been listed with supplemental documentation from other website resources.

For one thing, I'm hoping the process will reveal potential DNA cousins who are not doubly-related through the Flowers line—in other words, not descendants of either Elizabeth or Susannah, Mathias' daughters who married Flowers brothers. But, just like my exploration into the collateral lines of the Ijams family last month where we found that tell-all will of the rich uncle, I'm hoping to find some cross-referencing documentation within the Ambrose family, as well. We can look, but of course we can't guarantee that looking will lead to finding.

I'll spare you all the details while I grind through that genealogical sausage-making. In the meantime, an unexpected genealogical adventure has found its way to my door, and I'd like to take the next few days to explore that story. The tale will lead us, thanks to the discovery of some photographs in an antique store, to review and augment some stories I've shared at A Family Tapestry from several years ago. 

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