Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Female Ancestors

Last week I went and heard one of my favorite authors and people read from her newest book. Jewell Parker Rhodes has nine books and teaches through the MFA program at ASU. She is such a
wonderful person and so inspiring. My favorite of all her books is "Douglass' Women" about Frederick Douglass.

During her talk Jewell talked about the television show "Who Do You Think You Are?" where Ancestry.com show different celebrities discovering their ancestry. As a long time genealogist I see "problems" with the show but it does have to fit into one hour and they are making it interesting for the average person. That's a good thing. Jewell asked why they don't do "regular people" and then explained that in her and her husband's ancestry is an Andersonville prisoner, a Salem witch, slavery, Irish, Norwegian, and Choctaw Indian.

How's that for a challenge? As I have been working on my Civil War Soldier, Samuel Wilburn, I thought, "Well, maybe I can do a little bit for her. Just for fun." Jewell was elated and we are going to get together after the ASU semester and get started. I can't wait.

Jewell also talked about how our ancestors live through us. That there is a connection for generations back. I absolutely believe this and especially through the women. So I thought I would share some of my women with you.

The baby in this photo is my grandmother, Carrie Amelia Waggoner Wilburn (1893-1952). I never met her. The lady at the top is her mother, Salenia Alzadie Freeman Waggoner (1870-1948) and the lady in them middle is her mother, Sarah M. Jackson Freeman Corbelle (1829-1911). Sarah lived through the Civil War. How different their lives were. Just try to imagine the changes they saw.

This is Mary McFerran Wilburn (1841-1924) who's fiance joined up with the Confederate Army in Arkansas and ended up in the Rock Island Prison Camp in Illinois. He returned and they were married. Lucky for me. Doesn't she look like one spunky lady?

And finally, meet Orpha Ann Collin(g)sworth
Waggoner Boruff (1844-1903) who's first husband, Joseph
Waggoner went away to the Civil War and never came back.

As the nation "celebrates" the 150th Anniversary of the War Between the States it is time to remember the women too. I don't have all the war stories put together but Jewell reminded me that I need to do that. I need to tell about the ancestor who was thrown into the fireplace when Union Soldiers raided her house. I don't know why. Was she trying to save some heirloom or the last of the food for her children? (She did survive.)

I have ancestors on both side of the war and now it's time to try and get their stories told. Do you have war stories in your family?


  1. Hi Rita, your post is so fascinating. I almost don't dare begin tracing my ancestry as I think I'd get caught up in it forever. But I do love to read your stories. Especially these of the courageous womenfolk. Penny x

  2. It's a blessing for you to have photos of this many generations! Most of my ancestors (beyond my grandparents) came from Europe, and finding their stories is very hard. I always find it fascinating, though, to follow a person's lineage.

  3. Thanks for this post Rita, it is inspiring. I am still in the throes of sorting out the current generations, moving back on set past my parents...I guess it isn't that much further back to the civil war...onward - no backwards! Lori W at Art Camp for Women.

  4. you have very inspiring and obviously strong women in your past. i know very little about my ancestry but would like to learn more.

    thanks for stopping by my blog!

  5. Rita thanks for your kind words on my blog. I am delighted to see someone interested in genealogy...I have spent the last 25 years collecting and recording histories for my own family...I find them fascinating.
    I have a story for you...my great great great grandfather joined the greybeard regiment from Iowa in the Union Army when he was 63 years old. He had served as a state legislator and speaker of the house in Iowa and was a personal friend to Abraham Lincoln. He served with along with three of his sons one of them was my great great grandfather....sorry to bend your ear but you asked for it. Have a very Happy Easter.


Please leave a comment so I know you were here. Comments are like Internet hugs.