Monday, July 14, 2008

What's Age Got to Do With It?

The 52nd Carnival of Genealogy is all about Age: Who lived to be the oldest in your family tree? Who was the youngest when they got married? What was the greatest age difference between couples? I decided to stick with direct ancestors, because I'm fortunate to know the names and much of the vital information of all my ancestors through my 4th-great-grandparents, with the exception of five of that generation and one of my 3rd-great-grandmothers. So after analyzing my database, I came up with the following:

My longest-living known ancestor was William SAYERS, who was actually my 5th-great-grandfather (I'm keeping the rest of my statistics to the 4th-greats on down). He was born in 1758 in Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland, and immigrated with children and grandchildren around 1830 to Prince Edward Co., Ontario, Canada. He would have been around 72 years old when he traversed the North Atlantic in a wooden sailing vessel...amazing! We know his age at death in 1860 because a cousin who researched this line found mention of his great age in census records. This family line, which includes my WILKINSONs and LEWISes, had many descendants who lived into their late 80s and 90s. In fact, my great-great-grandfather, George Emmett LEWIS, a carpenter, built his last house when he was in his 90s. He fell off the roof he was shingling, but left the hospital "because they're for old people." He returned to his job and finished the house! When he died at the age of 96, he had 125 living descendants.

I have eight ancestors within the recent seven generations who died in their 30s; of these, Ann Elizabeth ROCKWELL (died when her apron caught fire) and Nelson H. PECK (cause of death unknown) were the youngest, both dying at age 30.

Four ancestral brides were only 14 when they married: Mary Jane BARBER; Marinda ROBBINS; Fannie MARBLE; and Mary Lucy WRIGHT. The youngest grooms--Angelo Merrick ROBBINS, Sr. , Benjamin Henry KIMBALL, and Martin HOEKSTRA--were 18; none of them married the 14-year-old brides! Martin's maternal grandparents, Filippus Willems JONKER (40) and wife Catharina Klaassens van der LAAN (22), had the greatest age difference: 18 years. And their daughter (Martin's mother), Grietje JONKER, with her husband Jan Martens HOEKSTRA were the oldest couple to marry, at 35 and 47 years old, respectively. It was a second marriage for them both.

While these statistics may not be necessary for family history research, they do make it interesting! Have you looked at the ages of your ancestors or family members and found something amazing about them?

Written for the 52nd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.
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