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Ask Ancestry Anne: You Didn’t Ask, But It’s Women’s History Month!

It’s Women’s History Month, and it’s time to explore the “fairer side” of our family tree.

Lisa Azlo, who writes the blog The Accidental Genealogist, has written a series of blogging prompts for the month, and maybe it will inspire us to dig a little deeper in our trees.   To play along, post a url to a blog post you’ve written, or reminiscence in the comments.

You can find the blogging prompts at: Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month.

Today’s prompt:

Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

It’s really hard to pick one, isn’t it? I have many that inspire me and make wonder more about their lives.

Elizabeth Jane Wallace, my g-g-grandmother always pops to mind.  She was  born in 1844 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the daughter of Charlton Wallace and Martha Jane Cash.  She married James Calvin Donald on March 20, 1860 in Rockbridge.

James, like many other Virginians, went off to fight in the Civil War, for the Confederacy.  From time to time, it appears that he was able to come home, most notably in March of 1864.  (His unit is documented as being in Lexington at this time.)  In June of 1864, he is captured and spends the rest of the War in Camp Chase, a Yankee prison camp, being released in March of 1865.

In Dec 1864, Elizabeth and James’ first child, James Henry Donald is born.  I can only imagine how 20 year old Elizabeth felt.  Her husband is in a prison camp; most of their married life he was away at war.  Was she scared?  How was she getting by?  Life in the south was grim at best in 1864 and even most ardent believer in the Confederate cause must have known the war was coming to the end.

Did she even know if her husband was alive at that point?

When we look at how the Civil War impacted our ancestors, it is often on the male side of our tree.  Who fought and what happened to them. 

But our female ancestors lived through the war as well. And the birth of Elizabeth’s first child gives me a glimpse of who she was and how her life was impacted on a very personal level by large historical events.

So who inspired you? Who do you want to learn more about? 

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne