Being rich is one of those relative terms. As many of my ancestors farmed, do you define greater wealth as more land, more cows? No, I will use a different standard. Expensive clothing. I have a photograph of a middle aged man before the civil war, with fashionable clothing and an ornate hairdo. The hair is piled high and combed with the 1850 version of hair gel. Who was he and why was he in my family album, when most of our people were Vermont farmers?
After comparison with much later photographs I identified him as my GGgf John Allard. [Allard-984] He was my grandmother’s sainted grandfather, and the stories handed down certainly indicated they were financially comfortable, but not rich. I have not found the source of John’s apparent wealth. I do know he was very aware of his own ancestry, which was Huguenot on his paternal side, and great migration English on his maternal side. My grandmother told a story of his ancestor Peter Allard, coming from France with blond hair and a violin. My own research found that Peter was the son of the immigrant, whose name was Matturin Allard. John’s younger photo seems to show he had blond hair. Looking at pictures of male hairstyles of the early nineteenth century, I found one that looked like John’s labeled as being French. So perhaps John got some of his sense of style from his French ancestry.
My grandmother’s stories made me think John was a beloved man in the community, but I had never found an obituary. I called a local history expert in Rutland Vermont and her better access to local records found one. In it, I found validation of much of what grandma always told us. First, he was a devout Methodist who had his own community church where others were welcome to join him in bible study He and his wife Prudence had a large family, and a dairy. As the children grew up and moved away, John had an abundance of milk, which he gave away to people who needed it. He died a beloved figure. In other words, he was truly a rich man.