Okay, I grew up watching the Waltons and Little House on the Prairie, and I was always touched by how close the family unit was. Sure there were ‘bumps in the road,’ ups and downs, but when it came right down to it the Waltons and Ingalls loved each other and their familys. Other than their faith in God, there was no greater bond.In the 20th and 21st century, we have all gotten pretty used to what was once euphemistically called, in my youth, as ‘non-traditional’ families. At first that referred to divorce and single-parent homes and then it evolved from there. Today, this ‘type’ of family has become the norm rather than the exception. So, when I took on the self-appointed title and mantle of family historian I fully expected to find ancestors that had loving relationships and families that were more like the Waltons and Ingalls. I am beginning to realize that I was wearing ‘rose colored glasses’ and living in a ‘pollyanna’ world.
The truth is that many of our ancestors lived in tough, sometimes harsh times - economically and physically. Money was tight, living conditions harsh; Disease, famine, persecution, etc. Watching Charles and Caroline Ingalls and John and Olivia Walton, I came to believe that no matter the hardship or circumstance, our ancestors – my ancestors – would have forged an unshakable bond that would not / could not be torn asunder. But, in my research I am finding things to be very different. It is not my place to judge, however I am human, and I must admit some of what I have been finding out about my ancestors has saddened me at least and shocked me at worst.In my research I have found a number of ancestors who married, brought children into this world, separated / divorced and left their children behind to be raised by grandparents or in children’s homes. Yet, went on to marry again and have more children. And from what I can tell to this point; never the twain to meet. And, I have found an ancestor who, it would seem, spent the remainder of their life in an indigent home, yet their wife, children, or grandchildrenfrom what I can tell, had no further contact with them.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately; I want to know, I want to understand, how parents can leave their children behind? How children can leave a parent in the poorhouse / asylum, alone and forgotten? I want to know what became of the children? What became of the forgotten parent? I want to put the family unit back together from roots to branches on the family tree; though they weren’t together in life.I love my family, past and present; but can’t help mourning the loss of the Ingalls and Waltons that were imagined.
If you’d like, I love to hear your stories / comments.