Pilgrim’s Progress – 1628

John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan was born in 1628 near Bedford, England. The son of a pot maker, he served in the Army as a young man, then became a lay preacher.

After the English Restoration in 1660, Bunyan was arrested on several occasions for defying an order not to preach. While in jail, he spent his time studying and writing.

Bunyan’s most famous work was The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which is to Come. The work tells, in allegorical form, the experience of a man named Christian, from his first awareness of his sinfulness to his personal conversion to Christ. Christian is shown as a pilgrim in this world on his way to the “Celestial City,” which will be his true home forever. The work was first published in 1678.

In 1672, after Charles II issued his Declaration of Religious Indulgences, Bunyan was released from jail. However, the following year, the king repealed his Declaration, and Bunyan was sent back to jail. He wrote 40 more books before his death in 1688. Pilgrim’s Progress has become one of the most widely published books in history, translated into over 200 languages.

What are the chances your 17th century ancestor heard about or even read Pilgrim’s Progress? Wouldn’t it be fun to add a quote from the book to an ancestor’s scrapbook page?

Monday Genealogy Tip: Timelines

Using a genealogy timeline

You don’t live in a void. Current events impact your everyday life, whether it’s the price of gasoline or searching for a new job. Although your far-back ancestors didn’t have to worry about buying gas, the events of their time impacted their lives just as much as yours do today. That’s why creating a genealogy timeline is a must if you want to understand more about the times in which your family lived.

Think about this. What do the think the difference might have been for your ancestor who lived during the presidency of George Washington versus your ancestor who lived during the Jefferson years? Do you know the events than spanned the beginning of Washington’s term (1789) and the close of Jefferson’s (1809)? Here are a few things to think about:

During the Washington years:

  • First Congress met in New York
  • James Fenimore Cooper was born
  • Louis Daguerre (pioneer of photography) was born
  • Mutineers of the H.M.S. Bounty settled on Pitcairn Islands
  • A German astronomer calculated the orbits of comets
  • First copper pennies minted in England
  • Washington, D.C. was founded
  • Jews in France were granted civil liberties
  • Benjamin Franklin died
  • Alexander Hamilton introduced his Funding Bill
  • Kentucky became a state
  • Louis XVI was executed
  • Denmark abolished the slave trade
  • Beethoven became a pupil of Hayden
  • Dollar coin was minted in the U.S.
  • Whiskey Rebellion took place in Pennsylvania

During the Jefferson years:

  • Federal offices are moved from Philadelphia to Washington D.C.
  • Sir Walter Scott wrote Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border
  • Goya painted The Two Majas
  • Paris had 550,000 inhabitants
  • Ohio became a state
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson was born
  • 12th Amendment added to the Constitution
  • Alexander Hamilton killed in a duel with Aaron Burr
  • Louisiana Purchase was completed
  • Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explore the new territory
  • U.S. prohibits importation of slaves from Africa
  • U.S. Embargo Act passed against Britain and France
  • Napoleon abolishes Inquisition in Spain and Italy
  • Robert Fulton’s paddle steamer navigates the Hudson River
  • Men’s pigtails go out of fashion
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born

Obviously tens of thousands of other events were happening, but for me, these reflect a growing country and expansion in all fields.  But don’t stop with national or international events, research local histories to discover what was going on in your ancestor’s neighborhood.

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Links to Help in Your Genealogy Search

  1. Google Books (search for place histories or biographies)
  2. Newspaper Archive  (search historical newspapers)
  3. Your genealogy software probably has a timeline element that will show your ancestors lifespan
  4. Search Google, i.e. “history of england” or “what happened in 1857 Indiana”
  5. This Day in History

If you’re as much a history geek as I am, you may enjoy this lengthy article (PDF)

Presidential Difference in the Early Republic:
The Highly Disparate Leadership Styles of
Washington, Adams, and Jefferson
Princeton University

William West – Week 14

Lone Jack Cemetery William and Dollie West

b:  March 28, 1890
m: Feb 10, 1915
d:  April 29, 1932

Relationship: Husband of Grandaunt

What I Know About William West

The stories I’ve been told about William West are scant, but interesting. Apparently “Uncle Willy” died in a hunting accident. The story goes that he was crawling through a fence while out hunting and his gun went off, killing him. The State of Missouri death records show that an autopsy was done and the cause of death was determined to be a “division of the abdominal aorta” caused by a gunshot wound. The death was ruled accidental.

My aunt Lu (Luella Hendrickson Maxwell) said there was always some suspicion around the death. Whether it was murder or suicide, who knows. I think this is a family mystery that remains to be solved. I guess I could go back to 1932 records to see when various hunting seasons were in effect; but because this happened in such a backwoods rural area, who knows if people followed the hunting season rules.