01 June 2015

Military Monday: Timelines help understand our ancestors better

Timelines are very helpful when tracing your ancestor. By including local, national and even world events, you can grasp a better understanding of your ancestor’s life and the influences outside events may have played.  

For example, my 4th great grandmother, Margaret Still had my 3rd great grandfather, George David Still, out of wedlock and no where is there a mention of his biological father. My 2nd great aunt (George’s granddaughter) suggested to me once that perhaps a soldier was passing through and Margaret got pregnant by him. That is a very romantic idea. I think the more likely answer is that Margaret was loose. 

I think this for a couple reasons. First, she had another son later named David. George was born in 1808. David was born in 1822. A court record from 1827 shows Margaret charging a David Phillips for fornication resulting in a bastard male child. The record only mentions one child and is dated five years after her younger son by the same name was born. While it is possible that David Phillips may well be David Still’s father, I have no way of knowing if he is in fact George’s father. But I digressed. I had wanted to talk about wars and timelines. 

Awhile back Family Tree Magazine posted an image of wars and birthdates. I first found it on Pinterest but have seen it numerous places since then.  

Looking back at George Still’s timeline, I realize that in 1808 when he was born, it was a relatively quiet time in America. There were no wars going on at that time. The Revolutionary War was 1775 – 1783. The War of 1812 ran from 1812 – 1815. There was nothing going on from 1783 to 1812 which would lend truth to my aunt’s soldier passing through notion. His father remains a mystery … though not one I want to dwell on today. 

Having been born in 1808, it is possible – according to this image from Family Tree Magazine – that my George could have fought in the Mexican War. I have not found any proof of that but the timeline shows it is possible. 

He may have, at age 53, played a role in the Civil War or the events leading up to it as well. That too is unlikely as I have found no proof that George ever left his farm in East Fallowfield Township, Chester County. Despite living in Chester County, and so close to Ercildoun even, I have never seen any indication that any of the Stills had any role whatsoever in the Underground Railroad.  

Whether or not George ever saw a battle, and whether or not he ever played a role in anything of historic value, a timeline helps me know George better. He was a hard working farmer who lived from 1808 to 1880. He lived through the War of 1812, the Mexican War and the Civil War.  


Military Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
The photo is obviously credited to Family Tree Magazine, although I do not recall exactly where I obtained it. It may have been from Pinterest.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.