Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What do you call them?

What do you call a direct ancestor you've never met?

I used to say I was looking for "Henry C. Meinzen" or "Elvira Bartley Gerner" or whoever it was. Then I began saying I was looking for "my great-grandfather, Henry C. Meinzen" or "my great-grandmother, Elvira Bartley Gerner." When talking to my family about my searches, they knew who I meant when I said "Elvira" or "Henry C." But something just didn't seem right. If those ancestors were alive, I certainly wouldn't address them as Henry C. or Elvira. So in my mind I've begun thinking of them as Gramma Elvira and Grampa Henry.

For me, family history and genealogy are not about names and dates but about relatives I haven't yet had the opportunity to meet. Their bodies are dead but I believe their spirits live on and that we'll meet when we arrive in eternity. It will be a happy day for me because those relatives I've been able to find will not be strangers to me. I will at least recognize their names and that they are family.

So, what do you call deceased relatives you've never met?


  1. I think right now I still call them by their names, but I'm working on calling them grandma or grandpa so and so...I think it's difficult for me to often remember how they are related, which is part of the problem. I love the photos, especially of William Doyle and Tressa Rose Froman.

  2. I also find it difficult to know what to call relatives when I write about them. In my blog, I call by grandmother, Grandma--even though she was only a teen when she kept the diary. Sometimes I think that I should call her by her given name--Helena--when I write about her, but somehow it doesn't feel quite right.


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