Friday, September 10, 2010

"Only The Men Had Babies"

 Copyright 2010, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)

One of our challenges when searching for our female ancestors, especially in the American frontier days and prior, is that we often find the records appear only under her married name as an adult, and under her father's household name in census records as a child. She was often considered a mere extension of her father and then her husband, with no identity of her own...treated in the records more like property to be enumerated along with household/ farm belongings, than as a unique individual who was a mother and matriarch of a family line. Unless she kept a journal which still survives today and we are lucky enough to find it, we are apt to learn little about her daily life and the events that affected her. One of my focuses in working on updating my own family tree, is to strive to include more biographical information on the women in my tree, especially my direct female ancestors. It is through researching my female ancestors and their family histories, that I have discovered my eligibility to join various descendants' patriotic organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), and Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War; as well as a society for descendants of outlaws, pirates, and privateers. These women, and their ancestry, are what makes my family tree as colorful as it is.

I came across this poem recently. It was published in the Phelps County (MO) Genealogical Society's Quarterly magazine dated April 1993.

"ONLY THE MEN HAD BABIES"
"by Dr. Dorothy Branson"

"My ancestor William had children.
All named, with birth and places,
But his wife is not even mentioned;
Of her, there are not even traces.

Surely she must have existed,
Was born, was a child, and had dreams,
Grew up and learned how to keep house,
Was a PERSON- but nameless, it seems.

She had parents, and someplace, a home,
Her brothers are listed, no doubt.
But she was only a girl,
So not really worth telling about.

She was half of my ancestor's heritage;
Without her he wouldn't have life.
His genes are half of hers, but I find
She was only his father's wife.

Once a girl was first 'dau', then was 'wife'.
She belonged to her father till married,
And then She belonged to her husband,
And beside him, unnamed, she was buried.

How awful to think MY descendants
Might search for a name for me,
Be unable to find my identity,
And wonder just who I might be."


"Note: Recorded in PCGS Quarterly April 2003 by Barbara Smith Pugh, previously appeared in publications of the Champaign County Genealogical Society (Fall 1991), and the Henry County Genealogical Society, as well as the Dawson County (Mont.) Historical and Genealogical Society. "