Question of the Week: If you could time travel, which ancestor would you go meet first?

+28 votes

If time travel were possible (and you wouldn't mess up the future by going to the past), which ancestor would you go meet first? 

For me it would be Johan Peter Langholff, my 3rd great-grandfather and perhaps most frustrating brick wall.   He stayed behind in Prussia, presumably to fight in the war, and his wife and their 10 children headed to America where they settled in Wisconsin.  Johan never followed and we figure he might have died in the war. I would love to know their story and be able to move that line further back!

How about you? 

PS Reshare the question on Facebook and get your friends and family talking. 

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker
I'd probably go visit Adam Edgar (Edgar-2006) back in the late 1700s South Carolina. I'd love to find out who his parents were, whether his wife was really native american, who her parents were. I have a cousin who had done SO MUCH research into this dude (including into all his known friends and aquatiances) and i'd love to be able to break through the wall. Also Adam was an abolitionist during a time and in a place where that was not popular at all and I'm pretty proud of that.
I would visit my great grandmother and ask her why she changed her name from Lizzie Gill to Elizabeth J. Jebb without marriage or any other reason why the change.  And why did she change my great grandfather's name from Samuel McKinnan to Samuel A. McKennon, after he died. They were both born in Ireland but married in the states.
Well, I have always had a fascination about Wales so I think it would be my several greats grandfather, Rev. John Henry Trevena.  As a young married couple in 1853, he and his wife came to America to work in the copper mines in Tennessee.  I would like to know more of his ancestors and what their lives were like, where they lived exactly, etc.  I was totally lucky to run upon their marriage record.
I'm not sure yet.
That's really neat!
My Dad
I would visit my 3rd great-grandfather, Daniel McKaskle, who was born in Scotland, but can to the US as a young man and lived in North Carolina. I would like to know who his parents were. Just have not been able to make the leap across the pond!
I would want to visit my 2nd great grandfather on my mother's side. Some interesting things have come up in someone's family line, would love to talk to him. His name is Dr. Henry Calton Hook. He had 7 children, but his only son is my gt grandfather, Ivan Lambert Hook.
I would go back and tell Adam, "DON"T LET EVE EAT THAT FRUIT!" I and "If she DOES eat it, YOU must not eat any when she offers it to you".  

YHWH will make a new and better wife for you and you can start over...and save us all a WHOLE LOT OF PAIN AND SUFFERING!
My 9th great grandmother, Princess Anna Eleanor von Hessen-Darmstadt.  Who wouldn't want to meet a Princess
I have a few that I would like to talk to.  First one that came to mind is my 3rd great grandfather Joseph Reader (Reader-465).  He could answer a few questions for me. Joseph is one of my brick walls.  I figure he could also tell me a couple of things:

1) why after his death in Minden, Nebraska in 1890 did his son, John and family go back to New Jersey.

2) where he, his wife Veronica, and brother John are buried.

3) what happened to his daughter, Mary Hilton.

4) would love to hear about their adventure traveling from New Jersey to Nebraska.  Joseph, his wife Veronica, his brother, John, daughter Mary, son John, daughter in law Lillia, grandson Addison travel with two of Lillia's sisters and their families.

5) his parents, siblings and other relatives.

6) Where is Blaybach ant., Walderch, in Baden, Germany. and their records.

89 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer
My 3xgt grandparent Stephen Buckle all I have is a name and occupation.
by Hilary Gadsby G2G6 Pilot (195k points)
selected by anonymous
+13 votes
“Oh, law!” as my grandmother would say. That’s a hard one! So many brick walls, so many questions. I guess it would be...  the elusive William Lawing. He shows up out of the blue, with a spelling of Lewing, in the 1760s and settles in Anson/Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Immigrant, French & Indian War vet, land owner, progenitor of a host of descendants. I think he must have lead a most fascinating life.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
Oh, law?

Should we be concerned? Like "Call the FBI" concerned?

Hopefully you get to bust the wall down, my friend.
"Oh, law" was and is used to protect one from violating the letter of the Third Commandment (taking the Lord's name in vain).
Doesn't that also get rendered sometimes as "laws a mercy"?
And “Lawd a mercy.”

“Lawzy, lawzy” is another one I’ve heard.
Huh. That's pretty cool. =)
lawks-a-mercy is the one I know :)
+14 votes
Eowyn, I think I would like to go meet one of my 8th great grandfathers, Hans Herr, (Herr-99).  He was a Mennonite Bishop involved with bringing people from Europe trying to escape religious persecution and settling in Lancaster County Pennsylvania during William Penns time. That would be an educational experience.
by Rodney Long G2G6 Pilot (585k points)
+11 votes
I would start out with my great grandfather on my moms side, Charles Hamel/Hamilton. Heard a few stories, that he walked out the door one day and never returned, one census has him from Sweden, another from New York, another from Ohio. My great grandmother was a widow by 1888 they had 3 children. I would love to find out what happened but I also know that it might not be possible.
by Dallace Moore G2G6 Pilot (105k points)
+13 votes
Easy for me, the most difficult "brick wall" in my tree.   My second great grandfather [ John J Becker].   The details are on his page, but, he, his wife and a newborn son all died within weeks of each other, leaving my 2 year old grandfather, John F Becker, an orphan.   I have never been able find out the story of John, yet, the family maintains the "steamer trunk" that he used to immigrate from Germany.   I would love to have "his story".
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (721k points)
+14 votes

I would visit my paternal grandmother. She died in 1952, 5 years before I was born. My dad was a "late" baby for my grandparents, so there's quite an age gap between his siblings, and between me and my first cousins. The cousins who DO remember her have only nice things to say about her. And I've been told time and again how much I look like "Minnie Rose," especially when I was a child 

by Robin Kabrich G2G6 Mach 4 (41.1k points)
+12 votes

Great question, I would go back and stop my ancestor from getting on his wagon that fateful day in Aug 1887.

(newspaper article about what happened in his sources)

I would love to have met him, he seemed like a real interesting character, even going back to visit his family in England about 10 years after arriving in America.

by Anonymous Rodgers G2G6 Mach 4 (44.1k points)
edited by Anonymous Rodgers
I love your thought, mine would be the similar, my second great grandfather died from injuries suffered when he tripped crossing a train track in a hurry to get home to his wife, if I could have stopped him.....
+15 votes

For me it would be Joseph Jacobs, my GGGG grandfather

He was born in 1820 in New York and died in 1864.

He is a brick wall and I don't know who his parents are.   But the other reason is that he was Mortally wounded in the Hip on June 3rd 1864 at Cold Harbor, but he didn't die right way.   It took him a whole week to die.  He died on June 10, 1864.

I imagine him sometimes, lying in a hospital, in pain, dying, thinking of his family.   At the time of his death he had four children and a 5th on the way.  He'd never see them again and I'd be willing to bet he knew it.  Besides the physical pain, I can only imagine the anguish he went through in those last 7 days.   

After his death, the family suffered even more tragedy, His wife and youngest child would die within 2 years and the his 4 remaining children, scattered to the four winds.  I still have no idea where 1 of them went.

Call me sentimental, but part of me would like to travel back those last 7 days and of course ask about his parents and siblings, but mainly to tell him, that he will live on in his memory and the lives of the family of his oldest daughter.   

Here's a strange bit, before I depart.  I visited the cemetery he was buried in some years ago.   I found the section he was in and knew the grave number. I started to walk, looking at the graves, looking for his.   His was the 3rd grave I looked at, 3rd row in, which in itself is not unusual, but the part which is odd is the fact that without realizing it, I had walked directly towards it. 

by Craig Albrechtson G2G6 Mach 8 (86.3k points)
That brought tears to my eyes.  I'm grateful most of my ancestors were either Quakers or doctors during that war.  I do have a GG grandfather who survived Shiloh.  I cannot imagine how terrifying that must have been.
It is indeed written very beautifully. I have an ancestor that died in Shiloh, luckily he had his one baby before he was killed or I and many others would not be here!
+14 votes
What a great question I often think about how wonderful if I could travel in time, I would visit my grandparents that live in Hong Kong , my grandmother who was half Chinese and half Scottish died in 1929 and My grandfather whitch is Danish Died in Hong kong of malaria so i would love meeting them. I was also very young when I lost my parents so I never heard much about them  my Mother would not talk about them.

So it actually took me16 years to found out about them thanks to archive in Denmark and england, where I in the end find two cousin that was my grandmothers brothers grand children they had move to London, and of course we took a flight to visit them. After that my family has grow

So I certainly wish we could travel in time.
by Susan Laursen G2G Astronaut (2.8m points)
I think you have a bit of a Chinese look to you! It's in the cheekbones. Have you considered a DNA test? You might find some long-lost cousins in China.
Thank you Kay no I haven got a DNA i have find a lot of lost  cousin I have contact with, in China Bangkok and quit a lot in Uk. I specially was so happy with the photo the could provide to me I really was so happy when I found them and meet up with them, one have even been in Copenhagen visit us.

My cousins actually look like Chinese
That's really sweet. The Chinese are such loves to their family. I'm so happy for you that you found them. It's heart warming.
Thank you Calista so very sweet of you to mention
+12 votes
I wouldn't even try to visit my biggest brick wall (Andrew J. Ream) even though that is the one that bothers me the most. I am going to visit another brick wall in Ireland. Not in the past of course, or will it be? I would go to Freiburg, Germany to visit Ferdinand Thoeny and his wife Sofia Wissler. They were my 2nd great grandparents and died before 1890. That is when their son emigrated to the US and their daughter entered a nunnery in Switzerland. They had been living with a family member and not treated too well, if accounts are to be believed. I'd like to know what happened to them and who the kids lived with.

Both of my German lines came from the same area, but in different centuries, about 175 years apart. I often wonder if the families had known of each other back in the old country.
by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (560k points)
+11 votes
I would love to ask my 3xgreatgrandmother in 1863 or later: "Who is the father of your daughter?" And I would ask my maternal greatgrandparents in the 1890s: "Hey guys, tell me about your ancestry!"

Oh and something else... I would ask my greatgrandfather what he knows about the lore that my paternal ancestry line is of some kind of nobility. Mum said once he was talking about that, but can't remember anything more about it.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (840k points)
My mother told me that only the mother knows who the father is, and, sometimes she’s not sure!!
+11 votes

The Doctor has given me full access to her Tardis. Brick walls become irrelevant. One catch. I can't disrupt my personal timeline too much. 

So, with that in mind this is what I would do. I would visit with my grandfather. He died when I was four. So, I have no memories of him at all. The only thing I do have with him is a picture of my grandma Olli and me sitting with him after what I think was my christening or birthday. It's hard to tell from looking at the pic.

After talking with my grandfather, I'd ask for his help in breaking down the brick wall that is his grandmother, Domenica Gullo. And maybe fill in some blanks.

Man, I could write a story about this encounter. So many feels. I already have an outline of it in my head.

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (481k points)
Very creative! Sometimes I wonder if they would tell us the real truth, or just go off topic and tell us something we weren't even thinking about asking about.
I would hope they would warn us all not to waste so much time watching television! Shhh only talk when the commercials are on. I would rather of gathered in a little huddle around the ancestor and hear stories of the glory days of America, or the hardships endured by our elders.
+11 votes
That's easy - I would go and visit my maternal great great grandmother, Stella Jane Horlick, and politely ask her who her son's father was and the circumstances of his conception.  This took place in the early 1870s and not only did her family not throw her out, her father left her money in his Will, she is buried with her father and younger sister (name etc on the gravestone) and her son was his grandmother's executor and heir.  I would dearly like to know because the only clue we have is her son's middle name, Compton, which is not a Horlick family name.
by Rowan Tanner G2G Crew (840 points)
I have seen sons get their mother's maiden name as a first or middle name, this could be the reverse of it.  I assume you've looked (in local census records, for instance) for Comptons in the area.  Short of some DNA sleuthing and the right samples being present, you won't be able to know for sure though.
+8 votes
I would like to go back to my home town of Etna, just north of Pittsburgh, PA in the 1920s and see my grandfather, Edward Bender (1908-1996) as a young child and talk to his father, Fred Bender (1863-1936) to find out where Fred was born in Germany.  Being in Etna in the 1920s, I could also see both of my grandmas, Mary Profozich (1918-1994) and Barbara Borkovich (1904-1965).  My grandfather, Vincent Jones (1905-1964) would be living across the 62nd Street Bridge in Lawrenceville.

Seeing them as children and young adults in Etna and Lawrenceville in the 1920s would be amazing.
by Ray Jones G2G6 Pilot (154k points)
+8 votes

Clotilda aka Saling/Sailing, Faughn, Ellington, Standley/Stanley, Warford/Wafford 

Not only is she at the heart of that line's brick wall but she seems to have been a very interesting person. She and her 4th husband Adam Warford/Wafford moved to Twin Mound, Kansas. The notes on the founder of Twin Mound (Clotilda & Adam's neighbor in 1870) Henry Hiatt indicate that "Hiatt resented the power of organized church in American society, preferred Confucious' version of the Golden Rule..."

by Nick Andreola G2G6 Mach 6 (60.4k points)
edited by Nick Andreola
+5 votes
Queen Victoria separated by 21 degrees
by Jewli Judd G2G1 (1.5k points)
+7 votes
Mine would be the ONE ELUSIVE ancestor I have still not been able to find. My 3 x great grandfather - John Burrow

He was probably born in Devon County, England - around 1766 and died in 1839. I have records of him from the year of his marriage in 1817 until his death but I know absolutely nothing about him from the year he was born until the year he got married.

I dont know exactly when he was born. I certainly don't know where he was born, I have no idea who his parents were. No idea who the siblings were either.

I know absolutely nothing about him before 1817. And I so desperately want to ask. I HAVE to ask him these questions.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (961k points)
+7 votes
Paddy Hannan, was he my nana's uncle as she use to call him, or her grandfather who left his wife and family to become a gold  miner?
by Rionne Brooks G2G6 Mach 6 (61.0k points)
Do you have any information on him?   Did he come to California?   I work with the Historical Society here in the Gold Country of California.   We had a lot of records that still need scanning, but, I love to dig through the old newspapers, etc.
Thank you for your kind offer. Paddy started the great Gold Rush in Australia. Nana had her pictures of him and I as a child could identify him in the photos. My problem is finding out if he left the family to go gold mining or was his wife a 'witch'  and he left that life for a hopefully better one. Another problem is  that Wikipedia  have different  parents for him, but was this made up so that  in his life he  could be left alone. A character trait that appears to have stayed with him all his life.

Do any of your papers speak about him?
+9 votes
So many choices.  I'd have to go with Major Joseph Lindsley, who was supposedly blinded in the American Revolution, but then went on to lead the building of a large church.  He might have met with George Washington too.  I'm sure he's got stories.

If I had the TARDIS translator with me, I'd probably go back to the oldest known Neff in my line, in Russia, and ask where in Germany they came from.
by Rob Neff G2G6 Mach 6 (60.8k points)
i would love to meet my portuguese great grandparents. they came to california in 1870.
+6 votes

For me it would be two ancestors in particular, Matthew Howard, the immigrant b. 1609.  He is my 9th great grandfather. I would like to know what family he came from in England.  There has been a lot of controversy and speculation about him over the past century,  Another would be Dugal McQueen, my 7th great grandfather.  I would like to know about his roots and the family he desended from in Inverness, Scotland.

by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 8 (84.6k points)

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