Just two little words on a marriage record. Two little words that made me feel terribly sad for Eliza, who on her wedding day, had forgotten a name.
And even sadder still for her mother, whose name it was that Eliza had quite forgot.
If I’d ever questioned my reasons for writing and sharing family stories or having a public family tree, those two little words were a powerful reminder of ‘why’.
Why sharing information about our ancestors is so important.
Why it can help to ensure they are remembered – and that they will continue to be.
Not hidden away in a box, photo album or diary.
Not ‘quite forgotten’ like Eliza’s mother.
Or so she thought.
Dearest Eliza, I know you couldn’t remember your mother’s name on your wedding day, but that’s OK. Her name was Olivia Bateman, and she married your dad, John Clayton, in 1821. I know you also couldn’t remember your age when you married William (or maybe you just ‘adjusted’ it a bit as he was younger than you?), but you were born in White Hills, Tasmania, eight years after your mum and dad married. You had many brothers and sisters, and I’m sure you were quite loved. I’m also sure that your mum would have been so happy for you on your wedding day, had she still been alive.
Dearest Eliza, you’d been married and widowed prior to meeting William, and saw five of your own children die before you. How terribly sad that must have been. I’m so glad you found happiness again – even if it was only for a short time. Even though you were only married to William for eight days, trust me that you were his ‘beloved’.
He described you that way when you died – did you know that?
Dearest Eliza, I know that you couldn’t remember Olivia’s name then, but we know it today.
She is remembered, and so are you.
There are many Eliza’s and Olivia’s out there whose stories are yet to be written, and whose families are yet to come find them. They will come, you know – it’s only a matter of time.
By sharing what we know, they may just find them…when they are ready to look.
By sharing what we know, we can help to ensure our ancestors are not ‘quite forgotten’, but rather, ‘fondly remembered’.
I have a feeling they’d be pretty OK with that.