This is post #1 of 52, part of the writing series 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks by Amy Johnson Crow.
My grandmother Mildred John Wilmer died when I was 8 years old. I remember her silver white hair and that didn’t smile or laugh. When she died, I spent time going through her collection of hats for church, all in hat boxes, coordinating with her purse and shoes. I didn’t know any other adult who dressed like that!
When I began genealogy research eight years ago on her part of the family tree, I skipped over her and went right to her parents. I felt like she was boring and predictable, and why spend time on that?
In 2019 I set the goal to have at least the birth, death, marriage, deed, and probate record for each person in my family tree. I had skipped those records in many of my more recent ancestors. Mildred wasn’t the only one, and it was time to be a good genealogist and be thorough..
In gathering Mildred’s records, most of them were predictable except for one: the marriage record. She and my grandfather did not marry in their home church, but in a new church in the next town over. Hmm, I wondered. The church history stated the Roman Catholic priest at the time was a very liberal free-thinker. Checking the marriage date against the date their first child was born, I realized Mildred was four months pregnant at the time . Ahh, was Mildred’s regular priest unwilling to marry the couple? Or did they just want to get married in a newly built church? Or was the new priest just the one available when they wanted the ceremony?
In any case, being pregnant before marriage meant Mildred wasn’t as boring as she first seemed. Taking a fresh look at her life beyond my memories of her, allowed me to see something unexpected.