In our search for our Ancestors we always experience that excited anticipation of possibly discovering that one famous person in our lineage. Finding someone who accomplished some great feat or invented something used by millions or who became President or who was an outlaw can bring color and excitement to our trees. When you gather together with other Genealogists you would now have something interesting to tell. Talking with family about these persons may peak their interest in their own history and of those who came before them. I just wonder, How do we define “Famous”?
Webster’s dictionary defines it this way “known or recognized by very many people: having fame”.
In today’s society the term fame or being famous is applied to anyone who can get themselves in front of a TV camera, or across the internet regardless of the reason. Most are just famous for being famous, really not earning the “title” by doing anything worthwhile. So I just wonder by what standard we measure those we deem famous in our own families.
To me, my 4th Great Grandfather Colby Rucker who fought in the Revolutionary war should be called famous. He volunteered to fight at the age of 17, defying his father in doing so and even after he was captured and imprisoned by the British, upon his escape he returned to fight till the end of the war. I consider my 9th Great Grandfather William Powell famous because he came to America, Jamestown Virginia to be exact, in 1609. He survived the massacre of 1622 but was killed in 1623. Regardless of how some may feel about what happened once immigrants came and forcibly took over this country, he was still brave to come to this strange land, far from all he knew. I believe my 4th Great Grandmother, Permelia Loving Allen was famous. At the age of 66 she became a widow, after 47 years of marriage. 4 years later after her husband’s estate was settled at the age of 70 she personally lead a group of settlers from Cole County Missouri to Tarrant County Texas. Included in this group were 8 of her 10 children and their families. She was one of the first women to own land in this county and she donated land for the Mount Gilead Baptist Church to be built. This remarkable woman witnessed the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War and she died in her 92nd year.
These ordinary people who did extraordinary things are more “famous” in my eyes than some of the other “famous” people in my trees. These are the stories I want to tell, the ones I am most proud of. Maybe we should rethink our definition of “Famous”. My new definition would be: “Those ordinary individuals, who through their own convictions succeeded to accomplish remarkable things that very few others are aware of”.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available at Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.