Sunday, September 20, 2015

52 Ancestors #38: Describing War

Ancestor Name: John Edward Jennings

I have loved the subject history for much longer than I've been obsessed about researching my family history; and when I can weave history into my posts about family, those are often my favorites posts to write. I have several ancestors who fought in the Civil War on both sides but the ones I've written about most frequently are my Confederate soldiers from Virginia. I use the Virginia Regimental series of books, which are available at my local library, to glean the trivia of camp life and battle tactics.

Died at Elmira POW Camp Peterson Stanfield Key (1828-1864)
Second Bloodiest Day of the Civil War William Stephen Shepherd (1826-1863)
Captured at Waynesboro William Henry Jennings (1838-1929)
A Lover, Not a Fighter Charles Edward Jennings (1843-1917)

I've yet to tell the tales from the War of 1812 but it's an oversight that I'll correct shortly. I've even written about my 4X great grandfathers' service in the Revolutionary War. A delightful find in Samuel Beard's widow's pension affidavit was learning George Washington spoke, or should I say mildly chastised him.

George Washington Spoke to Him Samuel Beard (1750-1814)
Revolutionary War Soldier Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815)

As I began researching my Scottish Muir family, I learned how to research British soldiers who fought in World War I. I hired Chris Baker, of The Long, Long Trail, for the in-depth research that helped me tell moving stories of my ancestors who lost their lives in that horrendous war. As part of his deliverable, he provides unit diaries, which are invaluable in telling their stories. I cannot recommend him strongly enough.

Killed in Action in the Spring Offensive William Lively (1899-1918)
He Died on a Flanders Field Oswald Dykes Riddell Dick (1888-1917)

However, my absolute favorite thing about researching and writing about war is the partnership I've developed with my youngest brother. He has been seriously researching and writing about World War II for so long, I can't remember when he started. Now, when I find an ancestor who served in that war, my brother will often write what we call a set-up post that I publish on the my blog the day before my post. His provides the historical context of what our ancestors faced and I write about the details of their service. I wish I had half the writing talent my brother has.

When Pursuit Comes to an End
When Things Went Sour on the Sauer
First Shot at Pearl Harbor
On Patton's Flank
Saga of the Lost USS Indianapolis
70th Anniversary of D-Day
"Stay Alive in 1945"

My guest blogger, my youngest brother, and me in the mid-1980s in front
of our parents house in North Carolina; personal collection

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Favorite Place. My favorite place varies depending on which ancestor I am researching; I don't have just one. So I improvised more than a bit on this theme.


  1. Oh, my, do I relate to this post! Both my brother and sister have studied the Civil War so much more than I have, and they are great contibutors to Ancestors in Aprons. My sister writes well, but my brother, an English teacher and published author is my model for writing. Love these family collaborations!

    1. Isn't it fun to have guest bloggers who are family!