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Someone You'd Like To Meet

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

As someone new to writing a blog, I'm already finding myself anxious over what to write about, how long a post should be, how often to publish new posts, and who might actually read it. I was turned on to a blog challenge specifically for genealogy. So, let's give it a whirl!

This week's prompt is, "I'd like to meet..."

What an unfair subject to get us started, because it's a long list! I find myself drawn to the ancestors with the more colorful stories. There was the great grandfather found dead in the Harlem River; the distant cousin who assumed multiple identities and was associated for several decades with a man who had an even more precarious background than she; the tenth great grandfather who was the keeper of the local swine in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony; another distant cousin who apparently gave birth to a daughter who was then adopted out of state after a journey on an Orphan Train; and who can forget the second great grandfather who won the Kentucky Derby in 1912. Is it too much to ask to gather them all in a room for a day of Q&A? Choosing one is too difficult, but perhaps I could choose who I would want to meet FIRST.

The FIRST ancestor I would love to meet would be my maternal grandmother, Lee Ann Taylor. It's not lost on me that four of the five previously mentioned "colorful" ancestors are in Lee Ann's family tree!

Lee Ann was the only child of one of the more significant interfaith marriages, in my family tree. Her father was baptized at St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Her mother was a second generation Jewish American. Lee Ann lost her father when she was eleven years old and her mom just four years later. As a teenager she went to live with her Jewish relatives in New York City.

As an aside, the apartment where she went to live in New York City was at 5000 Broadway. Coincidentally, my maternal grandfather's parents were the superintendents of the building, likely being how the two met. BUT, just a few years ago I was watching the movie In The Heights and would you believe the opening credits zoomed in on that very apartment building as the name of the production company, 5000 Broadway Productions, appeared on the screen! It turns out that Lin-Manuel Miranda lived in that same exact rent-controlled apartment building after college. Small world.

I digress. Losing her parents at such a young age must have had a terrible effect on her. Perhaps for love, perhaps for survival, perhaps for a little bit of both or something completely different, Lee Ann married my grandfather at a very young age. In fact, questioning the validity of the first marriage, they married a second time, in a neighboring state a handful of years later. By most accounts, it was a hard marriage, ending in divorce in 1966 on grounds of extreme cruelty.

Lee Ann died when she was just thirty four years old from complications of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She left behind, two teenage children.

I would love to sit with Lee Ann for a moment, to comfort her for her hardships, but also to beg her to tell me the good. It is easy to summarize someone based on the tragedy they experienced or the trauma they endured, but I am reluctant to believe that is all to her story. I'd love to hear about her earliest memories and if she knew of the remarkable characters in her family tree!

How about you? Which of your ancestors would you like to meet and why?


Disclaimer: Each blog post is created and presented for marketing and entertainment purposes only but are based on larger research which adheres to the standards of The Board of Certification of Genealogists® as set forth in Genealogical Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry Imprint, Turner Publishing, 2014).

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Jan 12, 2023

Great first blog! Gray

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