Happy Veteran’s Day to every woman and man who has served to protect our country. I have a story. It is a surprise to me. It is about my paternal grandfather. He brought his family here to America for freedom and for a better life. He was born in 1880. I had recently put Ancestory.com app on my IPad. I figured I would play with it and see if I could find anything or anyone for free. I have been working on my grandfather. He died before I was born. It was two years before I was born. I would stay at grandmother’s house and I would sleep in his twin bed and would think about him. My paternal grandmother died when I was nine. I remember no photos of my grandfather but I am sure they were there. Grandma and I would have tea in the afternoons I was there visiting.
I knew two facts about grandpa that he was born in 1880 and died in 1948. He had a window washing business and tried hard to support a wife and six children. Now this is not an ad for Ancestry but it is involved. I put my grandfather into his spot on the family tree. I immediately got a leaf. I felt excited like I was in a commercial. I clicked on it and there staring at me was a photograph of my paternal grandfather. I was speechless. He was handsome and I could see my father in his face. I was so excited I called friends to tell them. I figured this was just wonderful. There was also a photograph of my grandparents grave stone. Wow, I had struck gold. As time went by, I found out that the family had come into America via Nova Scotia. Again, excitement and happiness.
Then Ancestory found his mother, Jane. A pretty common name but the story I had always heard was that he had grown up in an orphanage. So now I knew his mother was living. Months went by and no information about his father. I had never thought of my great grandfather because he must have died since grandpa was in an orphanage in London. Months went by and suddenly my great grandfather appeared. No picture, but now I knew that he had died rather young. Then they found his sibling. It is so cool. I feel like I was given a gift than can never be taken away. I got busy adding photos of my children and grandchildren, all nine of them. And I worked on in laws and cousins.
Yesterday, I decided to join for a month and see if they could find anything else. I noticed that the photograph of their gravestone had a holder for an American flag. I got a magnifying glass and was pretty sure he was in WWII. But if he was born in 1880, how could that be true. Then I discovered the Wall of Honor which contains photographs of servicemen. Again, excitement. I decided that he must have fought in the Great War. I did the math and it had to be the war he served in. So I plugged in the required information, no grandpa. So I figured they were wrong and maybe he never served.
Then my friend who was here suggested that I should look at the servicemen who served in WWII. So, with frustration, I changed wars and entered the information. And I found him. But how could that be? He would have had to be in his sixties. So it was time to do more reading and research. I found “the old men’s ” draft. I am a history buff but never heard of that. It was the fourth draft but people called it the “old men’s” draft. They drafted the older men to help on the home front. This draft called men forty five to sixty four years of age. So now I knew about my paternal grandfather but I couldn’t figure out the orphanage aspect. Then I found that my great grandfather’s date of death had been added. He died rather young and left my great grandmother with four children to raise alone.
Women were very limited in what they could do to earn money. Ancestry has not given me any hints about how she survived and fed her children. Rationally, I think they might have been in a debtors’ prison because of debts or she put one or more of the children into an orphanage because she couldn’t afford to feed and clothe them. Kind of a Dicken’s type of thing, but it was the late 1800′s. Women back then were really really not equal. They weren’t trained for a job and this financial dependence made them need a man. They also did not yet have the vote. There is human courage and bravery in every families story.
So today, I say thank you to all who served in any war or police action. Especially to the old men who served well past the time they should have been serving. I am still a Dove, but the two World Wars couldn’t have been avoided by the United States. So my grandfather served in the Army. This has been quite a journey and I am grateful that I have found out so much about my family. I think the quest is still continuing.