Sometimes the best stories are family stories. As I mentioned earlier, one of my summer goals is to learn more about my own family. I have lots of family history and resources available to me. I have books and journals and letters and photos and documents. Unfortunately I haven’t taken the time to read all of them. Slowly I am doing just that. As I do so I’m adding names and dates to our family tree, or correcting mistakes made in the past or just adding details. I am fortunate to be a descendent of a well-documented family. My work is easy compared with other family historians who have to start from scratch.
One of the books in my possession is “Banta Pioneers- and Records of the Wives and Allied Families”, written by Elsa M. Banta in 1983. I purchased it from Higginson Book Company. They reprint thousands of old genealogy and local history books. This particular book follows the Banta line from Epke Jabobse (1619-1686) through all of the generations of Hendrick (Henry) Bantas who followed him. What I like about it is the stories of their wives.
Elsa says in the forward, “I feel, too, that the women who married the seven Henry Bantas have also contributed to the make-up of present day members of the family and so have researched the background of each of the wives.” Here is a list of the wives:
Part of my reading this week was about Jennie Fulton. Henry Banta (born 1786) married Jennie Fulton, daughter of John Fulton, a brother of the father of Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat. Jennie was also the sister of General Samuel Fulton of Nicholas Co. KY. Henry and Jennie lived in Indiana where she died in 1833 at the age of 46. She had born Henry ten children and one of the stories I found interesting was that of their oldest daughter Elizabeth (1811-1877):
“Elizabeth was named for her maternal grandmother. Jennie named all her children for someone in the preceding generation of the family. Elizabeth never married, but kept house for her father following her mother’s death in 1833. Though Henry remarried in December of 1835 (Rachel McClelland), Elizabeth continued to look after her younger brothers and sisters ranging in age from 17 to 1 year, and also for the children of her sisters, Maria and Nancy, who found refuge in the Banta household when adversity struck. She raised her sister Maria’s son, John Murbarger, and also Sarah, Mary Jane, and George Hawkins after the death of their parents. Elizabeth died Jan. 20, 1877 and is laid to rest in the Bethany Christian Church cemetery. It was the common custom for the oldest daughter to be the one to make the sacrifice and give up having a family of her own to take care of aging parents and others in the family; it was considered their duty.”
Not an exciting story. Just a glimpse of the hardships and expectations of previous times. Only a brief reminder that our ancestors were real people, not just names and dates on a chart. I am so grateful that someone took the time to write these stories.
Start collecting your own family stories and write them down for your great-great-great grandchildren.