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 (1.6m 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

+9 votes

I would choose my 3rd great grandmother Elizabeth Flye 
Dodge [[Flye-52]]. The story goes (from a book about the Dodge family): "She said a young lady by the name of Malbon was married to a man by the name of Fly, and this man went to Boston to get their wedding outfit for housekeeping and he was never heard of after. In course of time Mrs. Fly gave birth to a girl and after that she married a man by the name of Merrick and raised up a family and when the girls grew up this first one Nicholas Dodge married for his second wife and she was the mother of Elisha, Daniel, Nicholas, Nathan, Woodberry, Aunt Eliza and Aunt Sally." So Elizabeth was raised by a step-father and surrounded with step-siblings. It is said that she was quite different from her sisters and also very strong-willed. She grew up during the time of the Revolution. I would like to hear her story

by Robin Shaules G2G6 Pilot (860k points)
+7 votes

I would chose my Great Great Grandfather Thomas Kellett who died in 1869 with his oldest son only 6. I know from various secondary sources that he was Northern Irish and was in Bendigo, Australia in the 1850's. I alsoknow what ships he traveled on  From England to Australia and then to Otago, New Zealand. 

by Darren Kellett G2G6 Pilot (147k points)
+8 votes

My 5th great grandfather Alexander McNaughton (b.1692) asking him where oh' where were you born on Isle Islay, who are your parents and was it you in Ballytarsin in 1733, is Mary (my 5th great grandmother) a direct descendant of the Lords of Sleat and what was Ethan Allen like when you arrested him. Oh! one more… what the heck was the name of the ship that brought all of you to New York in 1738?

by Nancy McNaughton G2G1 (2.0k points)
edited by Nancy McNaughton
+3 votes

I'd like to discuss certain paternity issues with my great-grandmother She has some explaining to do...

by Matthew Fletcher G2G6 Mach 9 (94.3k points)
+4 votes
My only priority would be to meet my paternal grandmother, who died 16 years and a half before I was born. No amount of brickwall-breaking could beat that.
by Isabelle Martin G2G6 Pilot (395k points)
+4 votes
Well that is a tough question only because I just found out in October 2018 about my biological family, unfortunately my parent's and grandparents and many aunts and uncle's have passed on. But I think for me it wouldn't be that far back, my father George Gore Sr passed away in 1973 at the young age of 31, I was only 2 years old but had already been adopted out. The stories I have heard about him all indicate he was a wonderful caring man and father figure to my older half siblings, a little on the wild side but nothing out of the norm for his time and area.
by Terrie Correnti G2G1 (1.4k points)
+5 votes

Well, I'm going to be gone a while because I have a several, but since it's time travel, well, I'll be right back!!

  • My paternal grandmother: Lillie Irene Courson ... she died when my father was only 12 years old, and I was born on her birthday. I would really have liked to know her.
  • My maternal great grandmother: Edla Katrina Uhlin ... she was the biological mother of my maternal grandmother and her twin. They were born under unfortunate circumstances, and I have so many questions.
  • My 2nd gr. grandmother on my father's side: Betsy (Fulk) Hauser ... because she was a tough cookie, and I bet she'd have some really good advice and inspiration for me!
  • My grand uncle: Elias Fiscus ... because his first wife died young, and it seems like he just lost his way after that. 
by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (365k points)
+4 votes

Easy.  My 4 x great-grandfather Robert Tilliduff Tullidelph-3 born 1731 in Perthshire, who was the son of a very strict Presbyterian father and was disowned by him, abandoning his wife and the army and going to London to live with another woman and start the English line of Tilliduffs.  I'm sure he wasn't as bad as his father must have thought.

by Christine Searle G2G6 Mach 3 (34.9k points)
+3 votes
I would get my box of photos of unknown relatives and try and visit as many as possible to find out who they were what they did and when the photos were taken.
by Victor Wood G2G Rookie (290 points)
+2 votes
I would go meet my Polish great-grandma Agata Szmyt Smarz. I have a picture of her that my grandmother Marianna Smarz Golba brought with her from Poland when she came here as a teenager in the early 20th century, and I look just like Agata. It is eerie. My friends say she looks like me in a costume.I have not been able to trace her back and know very little about her, but that picture has always haunted me. I had never asked my grandparents when they were alive, nor my mother or aunt, and now it is too late.It would be really good to know more about Agata.
+2 votes
I would want to meet my great grandmother, Hannah Lauterbach Alexander, mostly to thank her for her courage and sacrifices that allowed so many others to have life itself. Many others could provide names and dates to expand my tree, but she is one who deserves to learn about the future she created for her descendants.
by Ken Elstein G2G Crew (380 points)
+3 votes
Leonor of Aquitania. I have 6 lines in my family tree that reach her. And there is probably an another one.

For me she is the most wonderful women in history.
by Claudia González G2G1 (1.5k points)
Do you think she'd know the true story of the Troubadour and Dangereuse aka Dangerosa? And what happened to her after he died?
Deborah, no unfortunately I do not have that information.  I have read 3 or 4 books about Leonor but they do not metion much about her father.

I recomend the book by Régine Pernoud who worked in the History museum of France and the French national archives for a long period. She also wrote a book about Blanca de Castilla, Leonor´s grand daugther who was queen of France and mother of Louis IX the saint.

Wait, I thought you were referring to Leonora 1162.Oct.13–1214.Oct.31, queen of Castile aka Eleanor of England and daughter of Henry II 1133.Mar.05–1189.Jul.06, duke of Normandy and king of England, and Aliénor d'Aquitaine aka Eleanor of Aquitaine 1122?–1204.Apr.01, queen of France, England, and duchess of Aquitaine in her own right.

Sorry, too many languages (thus spellings) in the mix. In English, the daughter is often referred to as Leonora, her Spanish name, to distinguish her from her mother Aliénor.

Guilliame d'Aquitaine 1071.Oct.22–1127.Feb.10 aka William the Troubadour was the 7th count of Poitou, 9th duke of Aquitaine, and duke of Gascony. He was Aliénor's paternal grandfather, and he was also the earliest troubadour whose songs have survived. He was witty and urbane, and powerful enough to spurn any attempt by the Church to control him. He was excommunicated twice; his excommunications were notable mainly for his quip each time, which both survived to amuse us today.

Dangereuse de l'Isle Bouchard 1079–1151, countess of Châtellerault, was the wife of one of William's vassals, with whom he had a very public and passionate affair. She was also Aliénor's maternal grandmother.

The affair started in 1113, when William's wife Philippa 1073–1118.Nov.28, countess of Toulouse and Aliénor's paternal grandmother, was away tending to business in Toulouse. When she returned to Poitiers by 1115, Philippa found that William had installed Dangereuse in a tower of her palace. This enraged her, but her appeals to those in power went unanswered and she hied off to refuge in  Fountevrault, where she became good friends with William's first wife, Ermengarde. After Philippa died, Ermengarde took up Philippa's charge to no avail except for the enjoyment of irritating William.

William IX's relationship with his son William X was strained by his preference for Dangereuse over Philippa. This was alleviated somewhat when Dangereuse proposed a marriage between her daughter Aenor by her husband and her lover's son William X, and the children were married in 1121. Aliénor was born the next year.

The second thing I would ask Aliénor, should I time travel her way, is about her relationship with her maternal grandparents and particularly with Dangereuse, who drops from the records after William IX's death except that both she and her husband Aimery are given a death date of 1151, outliving their daughter by 21 years and their son-in-law by 14. Philippa died before Aliénor was born, and William IX when she was no more than 6, Aenor and her brother when she was no more than 10 (making her the heir). Her father died when she was 14 or 15; she inherited the duchy and within weeks became queen of France. She had her sister Petronella for a trusted companion, but Dangereuse and Aimery were the only closely related adults she would have had the chance to know. The responsibility of ruling a third of France would have been heady for any teenager, no matter how prepared, well educated, and suitable she was to take on the job. (And she was. For example, much of the code of maritime law* she put into place as duchess survives today.) Did they look after her interests while she was in Paris? Give good advice? Or was it uncomfortable, her grandparents being her vassals? Did Dangereuse go back to live in Châtellerault with Aimery? Sure, we know about her relationship with her paternal uncle Raymond, but it's also known that Aliénor had a good relationship with Aenor's brothers, her maternal uncles.

The first question, of course, would be, "Could you please remove your veil?"

* Think I exaggerate? Look up the Rolls of Oléron. It's her legacy.

Yes I am refering to Eleanor of Aquitaine , 1122- 1204 Queen of France  and Queen of England 

+2 votes
My paternal grandmother was adopted and she knew her birth parent surname but no one talked about it,our family dynamics didn't lead to cozy chats. I would like to meet her adoptive father and find out the facts. I can't trace my ancestry through her without his input plus from what I read about him he was quite an investor. I read about her sweet 16th party and her wedding in a local newspaper and during the late 1870's this was rare to see such a big article as these were.
+2 votes
If I could time travel and meet any ancestor, I would meet Anne Charlotte Virginie DE TILLY, mother of Edouard DE TILLY, who wrote RECHERCHES SUR LES SIRES DE TILLY.  I haven't begun to trace my family back to Normandy,  but I feel close to her and have a feeling that she is my family.  I have studied and taught French for over fifty years and have been drawn to Normandy, which always feels like home.
+2 votes
Nothing fancy for me - I’d want to meet my paternal grandfather who died before I was born. He came from Wales in his late teens and worked all over the US in granite quarries. He came to my home town and was a boarder in the Hayes’ home. He apparently “ran off” with my grandmother because they married in another state. (She officially became an alien when she married him and had gone “naturalized” and swear her allegiance to the US.) They eventually moved back to my hometown and had five kids.  I was close to my three living grandparents and keenly felt the lack of Dad’s dad.
by Kim Williams G2G6 Mach 3 (31.7k points)
+2 votes
So many to choose from! However, I'm really intrigued about my 2nd ggfather,  James Henry Williams (1838-1912), he was a saddle maker by trade and a judge by appointment in Campbellsville, Kentucky. He was born in Virginia, his family moved to Tennessee in the 1840s and he moved to Kentucky after the Civil War.
by Luddene Perry G2G1 (1.1k points)
+2 votes
An easy question for me: I would travel back to the late 18th century and meet Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and President of the United States. Thomas Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, had an older sister named Judith, who married George Farrar. So Thomas Jefferson's Aunt Judith became my fifth great-grandmother, and Thomas would be my first cousin.
+2 votes
Not so much who but when and where; its 1845 Paducah Ky, Loames Orange Jones, Then Calloway County John Allen, and Emily McClean, then Stewart county Hugh Barr,down to Henry County TN Thomas T. Key, to Weakley County .Mary Frances McClure, Alabama WIlliam Dunn and Roseanna Dixon,I could solve all my brick walls for a couple of months/years back then. I'd be careful not to tell what the future holds for them just who is your father and mother  for starters. Loames Jones disappears before 1854 after being cleared of horse thief, Thomas T Key fell off his horse and died. William Dunn died before 1850. I would be very careful not to change my family history as I have it documented.
by Lonnie Jones G2G6 (6.2k points)
+3 votes
I would meet my ancestor Desolate Baker (1694-1778), one of the most colorful of my ancestors. He changed his name to Henry Loveall and became a preacher. Unfortunately, he lived up to his new last name a little too well.  He kept getting thrown out of his parishes for having affairs with the parishioners' wives.  My goal would be to talk him into changing his first name to Philander instead of Henry.  It would have been more fitting.  :)
by Teresa Carstensen G2G Crew (920 points)
+2 votes
My first stop would Goochland County, Virginia about 1740.  My ancestor, Francis McGuire, was declared an orphan in 1734.  We have searched for years and still can't figure out who his parents were.  Even if he didn't know who they were, other residents would have almost certainly known.  Somebody living on LIckinghole Creek should be able to answer the question.
by Jim McGuire G2G1 (1.2k points)

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