Sentimental Sunday: Hello Great-great-grandpa, how do you do!

Were your ancestors talented, did they bring a little sunshine into their friends' and neighbours' lives, or were they good-for-nothing scoundrels or somewhere in between? Imagine you could travel back in time and visit your predecessors. Who would you visit and why?

I quite like the notion of visiting bad-boy, William Elbert Dando, my great-great-grandfather. He may not have been a particularly pleasant person to know. Read his biography which outlines his escapades which include bankruptcy, assault, kidnap and bigamy. Nevertheless, I can't help thinking he might have had a certain charm in order to persuade those unsuspecting investors to dabble in his dodgy schemes. Was he a larger-than-life character or more sinister than that? The paper-trail doesn't reveal everything.
Then there's Benjamin Pitcher and his wife, Sarah (nee Rice), my 4 x great-grandparents. Benjamin was a yeoman who lived at Hodgecombe Farm in Uley, Gloucestershire. Having visited the house a few years ago, I'd love to have seen it in their day, especially as it's since been moved about 30 metres from its original position to avoid the springs that may have flooded it.

I would like to have met my great-great-grandmother, Grace Smale (nee Martin). She took my gran in when she was orphaned and gran spoke of her with much affection.

I'd also like to see how my great-great-grandfather, William Henry Weaver, made shoes. I think I'd enjoy a day watching him demonstrating his skills.
Similarly, the Dando family were hat-makers and it became big business for later generations but I'd like to go back to Dursley, Glouestershire, to the 18th century and visit my 6 x great-grandfather's hat shop in Parsonage Street where, or very near to where, a Barclays Bank now stands. I'd also like to see the original Calvinistic Tabernacle which John Dando was instrumental in establishing in Dursley. It was situated across the road from the present-day one and I've seen what little remains of it today.

Parsonage Street, Dursley
Parsonage Street, Dursley

My 5 x great-grandfather, William Horn, had some land in Black Torrington, North Devon, and it would be fun to spend some time on his farms and experience the lifestyle for a brief moment.

And great-great-grandfather, John Hellier, sailed the high seas in the 19th century Royal Navy. What sort of a life would a hard-working stoker have had to endure and how did he feel when his wife died and he had to send some of his children away to be cared for by members of his extended family?

Sometimes all we have is a name and some dates. If we could just talk to our ancestors, I'm sure we'd have so many questions and it would be such a thrill if only we could meet them and finally discover the essence of the people they were. I'm sure there'd be some we thought we'd like and find we wouldn't and others might surprise us.

In the absence of time-travel the next best thing is to investigate the local and social history of the times and places in which our ancestors lived to help bring our forbears 'alive'. How lucky future generations might be to see and hear how we walked and talked through the wonders of modern technology such as private family videos or You-Tube!

Who would you like to meet from the past? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section or blog about it and leave a link in my comments section.

[Why Sentimental Sunday? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

Category: Ancestors Corner

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