How do you put unsavory details of ancestors into perspective?

+9 votes
103 views
I have brushed against this outcome lightly in my research, yet I know many are rocked by unsavory details of ancestors--one on the darker side of a war, convicted of an awful act, etc.

How do you process such details? What has been your experience?
asked in The Tree House by Kelley Harrell G2G6 Mach 1 (12.3k points)
I love this question. Personally, I have found all kinds of people in my ancestry. I have murderers and saints. I have slave holders and slaves. I have rapists and drug dealers. I find that most familial lines are a mixture of the good and the bad. At first, I felt that I should feel ashamed about the bad guys while feeling proud of the good guys. But that would mean I would be ashamed of myself for being related to them.Whoever they were and whatever they did, their actions led to my creation and I'm proud to be here.

Betty
:) Awesome, Betty!
Sometimes families are more critical of their own members than the rest of the world would be.  I have a family member (not a direct ancestor) who was murdered in a lovers' triangle situation. The received wisdom in the family is that our relative (the murder victim) was messing with the other guy's wife. However, the story passed down through news media and court information is that the murderer was having an affair with the victim's wife. ;-D

4 Answers

0 votes
you could write a brief descrition  in the notes section you don't have to go into any great detail
answered by E G G2G6 (6.6k points)
+5 votes
I'm not sure how I'd treat them if it was a close relative, but for older ancestors I try to highlight them. Frankly, a lot of profiles are pretty boring; an unsavory detail or two makes them SO much more interesting.
answered by Chase Ashley G2G6 Pilot (113k points)
edited by Chase Ashley
+1 vote
I always include information from the records I find as those same records are available to other family researchers.  There are probably circumstances about their lives and the events that we will never be aware of.  While we may not be proud of some of our ancestors and what they did or the way they lived, they might not be proud of us, and if able might be critical of the things we do, the way we live, the causes we support and our religious beliefs, or lack there of.  We are each responsible for our own lives and the way we live.
answered by Carolyn Wilder G2G6 Mach 2 (28.7k points)
0 votes
Thanks for sharing.  I hope you will add them to WikiTree's Black Sheep Project. http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Project:Black_Sheep

Some profiles I've worked with include:

http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Pennybaker-11

http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Lowe-2422

http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Gwynn-72
answered by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (454k points)
Absolutely brilliant. Thank you for sharing this project with me!

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