Question of the Week: If you had a time machine ...

+17 votes

... when and where would you go? 

Who would you visit? 


asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (258k points)
Just think of all the errors we could correct if we could indeed go back in time and collect all the info, and then return to the present!!
Might first, very selfish, thought would be to go back to see if my John Gaulding was more than a supplier for the American Revolutionary Army in SC. But I read through all the posts and see that people are not as small minded and selfish as I. Wow there are some great answers!

Great question! I'm really impressed with what you guys have been coming up with for the Question of the Week.
Thanks, Chris!  It's a collaborative effort. ;-)
I would go back and break down a couple of brick walls I have. In both cases I am fairly certain of which families they came from, just not who the father was.  To my Revolutionary ancestor b. 1730 I would ask who were your parents?  To my Howard ancestor who served in the War of 1812  from New York.  Were you the illegitimate child of the maid?
I would go back to 1850 and find out if my grt grt grandparents left Tiree by choice or by force,,,The highland clearence was around that time and  some where forced,,,almost driven out,,and others left at a chance of a new life,,,better life,,,and since this subject is touchy.. depending on whom you talk with or research,,,I could find a lot of info out as to why some where left behind,,,and what if anything they brought with them
If I could go back in time (and retain my present knowledge),
I would be a real estate and stock market investor.
I would like to go back in time to when people started immigrating to America to find out what was the ultimate reason for leaving their birth place & what they were hoping to find or what outcomes they were looking for. That's a curiosity I have been thinking about lately.

21 Answers

+28 votes
Best answer
Back to 1921 to prevent the fire that destroyed the 1890 census.
answered by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
selected by Bill Vincent
And we would all be really grateful for that, Doug!
+14 votes
I suppose that I would visit any of my Crook ancestors to ask them a few questions.  Where is my great-grandfather buried?  Where were they living in 1900?  Why did my great-grandmother lose her children?  What were her parents' names?  Why did they move to Kentucky before they moved to Illinois?  Where did my great-great-grandfather die?  But you know, I could ask these same questions to any of my genealogical dead-ends.  I suppose the question I would most like to ask is why, oh many times great-grandfather and grandmother Smith and Taylor did you give your sons such boring names.  Do you know how difficult it is to find a Joseph Smith with a son named Frank in the 1850 census? It isn't difficult at all--that's the point.  If you have a ubiquitous name like Smith, Jones, Taylor, or Moore, why weren't you creative in the first name you gave your offspring?  How in heck will I ever figure out which one is which?  Why weren't you thinking about your descendants?
answered by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (154k points)

Those are great questions, Jude! :-)

Have you talked with Kitty Smith? She has put together a Smith One Name Study.

There might be some helpful resources there that can make sorting them out a little easier.

Good luck!

I also have Crook in my direct line. She is married to a Turner
+13 votes

I would want to go back to 1920's and learn more about my father's first family in Connecticut and about what he did for a living. Also would like to learn what he did during the first and second world wars. (He was born in 1898). 

Seems like that time period was never talked about with my family and it left a lot of questions. Especially since I recently learned I had a sister, but because of her age she only remembers her father's name and where he was from, but has no knowledge of his second family or my brother and I). I wished that sometime in the 1950's we would have hooked up and learned more about one another.

answered by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Wow, Dorothy! That would be a really fascinating trip.
+10 votes
Back?  Back?  Why would I want to go back and look?  I know this is a genealogy site but I'd want to look forward 200, 300 maybe a 1000 years ...
answered by Bob Jewett G2G Astronaut (1m points)
That would be incredible, wouldn't it Bob?

I think it would be fascinating to go back and get one of our favorite ancestors and bring the forward in time so they could see all of the things that have happened since their lifetime.

I heard a story once about a woman who was working with her very elderly grandmother in the kitchen. She asked her grandmother what her favorite modern convenience was, thinking her grandmother would say the microwave or refrigerator. Her grandmother replied simply, "Indoor running water." :-)
+10 votes
Great question, i often ask myself this question, and the answer is Always i Will go back to Hong Kong to visit my grandparents I never meet and ask questions about them, just imagine getting my curiosity fulfill.

Unfortunately my mother would never tell me anything.

I know my great grand mother are from Japan or Hong not shore, I saw my great granddads dead certificate I got from the archive she sign her name with and X she could not write English imagine I could have all my question about my family that would be a treat.

Thank you so much for a great question Julie, I think it is a question that are on many people's mind

Also merry Christmas
answered by Susan Laursen G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
That is very sweet, Susan! I would love to talk to my great grandmother on my mother's side, too. She had twins at the age of 40, and their father was her employer. She never married and had to give the twins up for adoption.

Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year to you! :-)
+12 votes
I'd go back to encourage the Eastern Orthodox Christians to keep records as fastidiously as the Quakers.

I'd get the added benefit of seeing the Byzantine Empire in its prime.
answered by Dina Grozev G2G6 Mach 2 (26.5k points)
+7 votes
I would go back an hour prior my sister's suicide, since I was in her basement when she stepped outside the house and hung herself in her shed in the backyard, in Aug 25th, 2015.  I have never been the same since.

She was my only sister.
answered by Jean Madore G2G Crew (410 points)
Oh, Jean. I am so sorry.

One of my uncles committed suicide two weeks after he came to my wedding. While I wasn't nearly as close to him as you must have been to your sister, I do understand the horrible impact it can have on a family.

My heart breaks for you, and I hope you have someone around you who knows the kind of support it takes to recover from something like this.

Love and blessings to you.
Well, that leaves only my mom and I to care for each other, snce my dad passed away in 1990, and my recently "ex g/f", has asked me to move out of her house this past X-Mas eve, after being together for 5 yrs, and while supporting her while going through a depression...!  Life just sucks sometimes!!

Yes, it does, but not all the time! Look for the good things. <3

+6 votes
Go backi and meet my Hettinger realitves and my grandad larsen and gramma Larsen and grammie
answered by Georgia Marks G2G Crew (380 points)
+7 votes
I would break down a couple of brick walls. In both cases I am fairly certain from which families they came, just not who their parents were. To my Revolutionary ancestor from New York. Who were your parents?  The same question to my War of 1812 ancestor from New York also.
answered by Deena Cross G2G6 (9.9k points)
+8 votes
I would only go back to my Great Grandfather. He is my brick wall and I really want to break it down. One problem is the my Turner's and Crosswhite's loved to inter marry.

How can I answer questions without it being the top answer on here? There are so many others who have answered before me and they should be above my answer.
answered by CaryAnn Hess G2G6 Mach 1 (12.1k points)
They get "sorted" after you're done entering, Cary. If you come back and look now, you are in date order. :-)
Thank you Julie.
+6 votes
I don't know that I would want to go back. If I did I would not be searching as ardently as I am. I really like figuring out where people go in my family. And as exasperating as it is, it is a journey like no other. Exciting yet disappointing, exhilarating yet crushing. So no I think I would have to pass the time machine to someone else.
answered by
That's an interesting perspective, Elsie!!

It does seem like it would just make it too easy in regards to genealogy. ;-)

I think my desire to go back would be to see what the people were like in person. It would be really interesting to see what personality traits were passed down through the generations.
Luckily I too have still alot to experience in todays time. Like visiting the little village from where my ancestors came. Bringing along my children to visit the small banatan village where I experienced country life hazard the first time (oldfasioned WC and spiders) and where people I never had met still knew who I where just because of my looks.
+7 votes
I wish I could go back in time and find out what happened to one of my Rev War New Hampshire patriots -- he served as a teenager, then left for Nova Scotia, and then returned.  

Grandmother never said more than, "This family has the right to wear Nova Scotia plaid!"  But she left a chart behind, and the rest is history.  She also left family stories about Governor Leete and the Charter Oak.  My ancestors also were innkeepers in the 1700's -- John Payne had a tavern in Hanover New Hampshire,and Obediah Clement owned a tavern in Warren, New Hampshire.  Hospitality, rest for weary travelers and their pack horses -- but wouldn't I love to hear a few of their stories!

answered by Janine Barber G2G6 Pilot (131k points)
I would go back and visit my fourth great-grand-father Morgan W. Brown IV, just to hear him talk about his Revolutionary War service as a Lt.


Gerald Jones
+5 votes
I had to put a bit of thought into this one.

For myself, I'd want to go back to my ancestor who first set foot on the North American continent, Dirck Volckertszen, and visit in a couple of time periods. First, I'd like to visit him before he took the journey (maybe around 1628) and find out what motivated him to go to the new world, who his parents and grandparents were, brothers and sisters, and find out all about his past.

Then, I'd want to skip ahead through the journey to when he set foot in New Amsterdam around 1632 and watch a few moments in his life that were recorded - rumor has it he was a hard drinking man, a bit of a gambler, and had a terrible temper. He paid his debts, both good and bad. Took a fence post to an unruly landlord who dragged his wife out of their rented house by her hair. I wonder if I might like the guy.

And for my wife, I'd want to go back, just a few years, to visit one specific point in her past. She has a great-grandfather that so far has eluded me, so I'd go back to the 1910-1916 period in Sussex County, Delaware, and find out who her grandmother and her great-aunt's father was. And I suppose it's possible that it's two different men, so I'd want to know that too.
answered by Scott Fulkerson G2G6 Pilot (351k points)
Scott, I just had to comment on your post, because I loved it so much and found it so entertaining!  Plus I totally related to it!  I'm right there with you as to an immigrant ancestor (my dad's namesake) and wanting to see him in Ireland with his parents and then in Maryland in the mid-1600s.  And right there with your wife -- as I would SO love to know who fathered my maternal grandmother!  DNA will eventually tell me, but it'd be fun to know my great-grandmother as a young, somewhat wild (from what I can gather) woman as opposed to the old woman I knew!
+5 votes
I want to visit someone that can help with the writing of the pastors in the period 1650 to 1750. Transcrbing some of the document are so difficult.
I will also love to talk to my grandmother for some answers regarding my ancestors.
answered by
+5 votes
Out and bout the English channel before the Norman invasion, 1066.

So many geneologies hit a wall here because the Normans introduce Family names to Britain. before that following parent to child lines cant be done by name alone
answered by Michael Roy G2G Crew (350 points)
+6 votes
Oh!! That is a hard question!! The answer changes for every profile I work on, I think. But if I had to choose ... then I would like to go back to the 1500's and meet Gustav Vasa and his children. Even if they have a bad reputation they also did a lot of good. I want to see the real people and what they were like.
answered by Lena Svensson G2G6 Mach 4 (45.9k points)
+5 votes
I would love to visit my ancestors in the wilds of Scotland to see how exactly they lived, what they did in any spare time. One branch had 13 children and I understand they lived in a 2 room bothy.

To find out if they were affected by the Highlands clear out and involved in any of the Scottish battles with the English.
answered by Stu Young G2G Crew (350 points)
+5 votes
I would go back and meet my maternal ancestors starting with my maternal grand parents and would like to ask my great and great great paternal grand fathers about our family history. It would be great to have had the forethought to have asked my parents about our family and ancestors before it was to late.
answered by David Selman G2G6 Pilot (548k points)
+6 votes
20 Aug 1881 to witness the supposed wagon accident that reportedly left 2 year old Smith Alexander (Ricker) Stills without parents.  Evidence suggests his mother died but his father lived a few more years before dying.  Lots of questions.  What happened to his father?  Why did William Stills and Nancy Tarlton (58 years apart in age) get married, take him in as their own and then start their own family?  

Why is the August issue of the local newspaper the only issue not archived from that time period?
answered by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (362k points)
+3 votes

Forward in fascinating future time to know and share genealogy with descendants and descendants and descendants and descendants  

C'est Bon Magnifique ! 


answered by Jerry Baraboo G2G6 Pilot (495k points)

Related questions

+17 votes
23 answers
+18 votes
23 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright