I read on my screen this morning (the newspaper is not here yet, imagine that…) about our “Polar Vortex” creating these sub-zero temperatures, heavy snow, and blowing winds that we are currently enjoying. I soon thought about our ancestors of 150-or-so years ago here in the Midwest.
If we have it so rough here in 2014, think about 1914 or even 1814. Were your folks like mine, huddled in a one-room log cabin miles from town? Did they have to carry water in buckets from the spring house? [Even I did that in West Virginia!]
They probably had a very inefficient fireplace or a single stove in the middle of the one room. [and, yeah, we did too when I was a kid] Wouldn’t it be fun going out and chopping some firewood this morning at five below?
Do you have to care for the farm animals out in the barn or the pasture? I really loved milking the cows on days like this, and forking hay down out of the loft and shoveling other stuff out the door.
I will tell you one thing: I don’t gripe about the weather these days, as I sit in my nice warm house in the suburbs, doing genealogy on my nice connected computer, and sipping on some great hot coffee.
One of the reasons I do family history is because of times like these; times that remind me of all those tough pioneer people who risked it all for the chance of a better life for their children and grandchildren. Are we still that tough? Could we do it all over again? I like to think so, but sometimes I wonder.
Anyway, I hope you have a great New Year and find a lot of great new information about your folks. I also hope you think of them as people, doing their chores, raising their kids, and just plain keeping on. They were just like you--only without electricity, and gas, and cellphones, and scanners, and refrigerators, and—well, you know what I mean…