Where Would You Go?

Where Would You Go?

by Kerry Scott on 18 June 2013

Post image for Where Would You Go?

Wait. No. Strike that. When would you go?

If you don’t recognize the blue police box above, you’re probably not a Doctor Who fan. It’s the TARDIS. It’s basically a spaceship that allows you to travel through space and time. Now, is there a genealogist alive who hasn’t spent copious amounts of time thinking about how cool it would be to travel through space and time?

I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I know exactly where and when I’ll go if Doctor Who ever shows up. In fact, today’s the day. My great-grandparents were married 100 years ago today in Minneapolis, and I’ve decided that that’s the one date and event that would give me the most bang for my buck. For one thing, there’s a woman who appears in the wedding pictures who is a complete mystery, and I refuse to die until I know who this chick is. For another, I want to know if my great-grandma’s youngest brother was there, because I need to know whether his child was his biological child or a step-kid (not that it matters much, but it would narrow down the search for records I’ve been looking for for years). I’d also like to know whether the groom’s father was present, because that would tell me more about some family dynamics that were…well, complicated. It would also be nice to find out who gave my great-grandparents my beloved clock as a wedding gift.  Finally, I’d take an inventory of every one of the guests, because untangling the Norwegian patronyms of my great-grandmother’s family would be much easier if I could just ask them who they are. I know that’s cheating, but since the TARDIS is unlikely to show up here anytime soon, I don’t feel bad about it.

What genealogy-related date/event would you visit if you had one chance to use time machine? What would you hope to learn?

Photo by Toenex Lacey


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison June 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I would go back to September 1918 in Bingara when my g-grandmother committed suicide by drowning in the Gwydir River. I’d like to ask her why. I’d also like to know the timeline for what happened after…the family split up and my grandmother ended up boarding with the Sisters of St Joseph in Wyong. How did *that* happen?? They weren’t Catholic!


Heather Wilkinson Rojo June 19, 2013 at 4:28 am

I usually have no interest in traveling back in time because I’d probably be accused of being a witch, or die of dysentery from the water, or catch some other icky disease within five minutes of arriving… however, the idea of catching up with an ancestor is terrific. I’d love to arrive in Boston in the year 1793, when my 5th great grandparents Owen Jones and Elizabeth Lambert were wed. This is my biggest brick wall, finding out their ancestry on both sides- of course having the name JONES doesn’t help at all. I’d avoid Salem 1692 by all means possible because three of my ancestors were hung that year, and several others imprisoned as accused witches. Being a family member might mean I’d end up at the end of the hangman’s noose, too. Although if I brought Dr. Who with me maybe I could change history?


Colleen June 19, 2013 at 4:50 am

I would travel to 9 May 1921 in Manhattan to my maternal grandparent’s wedding day. There was no crowd, no party; just a trip to the Justice of the Peace. However, my grandparents would be there together. I never met Nathaniel, who died long before I was born. I just know we would love each other. I would also get to see my beloved Nana again. Of course, I’d ask them both many genealogy questions to solve several mysteries but mostly, I just get to sit and talk to this wonderful pair!


Nancy June 19, 2013 at 9:31 am

This is a very difficult question to answer since there are so many places and times I would like to travel back to for answers! Right now I would have to say June 1, 1925 Brooklyn, NY when the state census was taken. I would love to ask my husband’s great-grandparents where in Romania they were from and why their eldest son is living with them without his wife and child.


Ann June 19, 2013 at 9:36 am

Too many choices! Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, in the 1880s, to attend the baptisms of my GG uncles and aunts who all died in infancy, and learn about how my great grandparents met after the deaths of their first spouses in 1890.

I’d take along a notebook and pencil (no ballpoint or laptop, because I don’t want to mess with the timeline) and ask all those questions.

My grandparents married 99 years ago this week, and I know who gave them my beloved clock, because my grandfather made a detailed list of the gifts and their givers, and I still have that list.


Debi Ham June 19, 2013 at 11:06 am

So many events to choose from…but first choice would be the funeral for my 3rd great-grandmother, Leannah Edwards Ham, in Warren County, Ohio, about 1835. Maybe then I could find out which Edwards family she came from, and where she’s buried. She was the first wife of my 3rd great-grandfather, William Ham, who is buried between his 2nd and 3rd wives, but Leannah is nowhere to be found. Other than her marriage record to William, I don’t have a shred of information on her. Someday…


Rosemary June 19, 2013 at 11:37 am

I’ld like to be in Attleborough on 19 Jan 1876 when my gt grandmother Elizabeth gave birth to my grandfather Walter to find out from her or one of her siblings who the probable father was.


Jacqi Stevens June 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Wait! A TARDIS sighting? On a genealogy blog? Quick! Go tell my daughter. She may change her mind and decide to like family history after all ;)


Susan Clark June 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Easy. Though I had to look up the date. Send me back to the Bent Creek Meeting House on the 4th Sunday in May, 1787 for the Holston Association Meeting (of Baptists) attended by my ancestor Jonathan Mulkey and my possible ancestor Robert Hampton. So many questions could be answered. Who was Jonathan married to at the time? What was Robert’s ancestry? Who was his wife? Did he have any daughters at the time? Where were his siblings, if he had any? What was the scoop on Jonathan’s father? Rake or rector? Why did they leave South Carolina? And what did they do in the war? I would get to hear Jonathan preach! I’m hyperventilating just thinking about it.


Linda Schreiber June 19, 2013 at 4:07 pm

No question in my mind…. My paternal greatgrandfather, Cleveland OH, late 1800s to 1903. My mystery with no more roads to follow after 30 yrs of the hunt, unless serendipity or the Tardis can help. Was he really b NJ? If so, where?!?!? Who were his dad-blasted parents? Even Y-dna has only one opportunity, and I’m working on him…. This one may never be solved beyond maybe dna hints. Oh, if I could just talk to him!!!!


Deena Coutant June 20, 2013 at 10:34 am

I LOVE the idea of combining Dr. Who, the TARDIS and genealogy! If I could travel to one place in time, it would be 1835 in the small village of Montemaggiore Belsito, Palermo, Sicily. My 3rd great-grandfather Vincenzo Gelsomino-Campagna was dropped at an orphanage by a midwife, and therefore his birth record indicates he was a foundling. This is my Italian brick wall, since there are no records to document who the parents are. I’d love to see who was dropping him off at the orphanage and talk to the person to determine the circumstances around why his parents felt they could not care for him.


Vincent Scorsone July 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Hi Deena,

Me too!!! I googled “Gelsomino-Campagna” and found your post! Vincenzo is my great-great-grandfather, and I’ve also come to a dead end with that branch of the family tree (btw, on ancestry.com under enosrocs). My mom Seraphine Campagna Scorsone was his great-granddaughter. I was named after him indirectly, being named after my grandfather, who was named after him. I’ve always heard that he was an orphan, and my uncle and cousins recently visited the town in Sicily in search of the mystery, but I need to talk to them about it.

But I do have links to his photos of him (if you cannot see the links, I can send them to you):

This is him with his wife Gaetano Fatta…

and this is him (2nd person) with his bothers, Giuseppe Campagna, Vincenzo Gelsomino-Campagna, Sam Campagna, Francesco Campagna…

Vincent Scorsone


Vincent Scorsone July 30, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Oooops… I was mistaken on that 2nd photo. Those are actually the sons of Vincenzo Gelsomino-Campagna (of course, we know he was an orphan), and the second person is Vincent Jr. My great-grandfather Orazio is one of the 3 brothers not in the photo.


Susan Partlan June 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Your clock is awesome. This is an easy one. I would attend the October 1930 wedding of my paternal grandparents in Evanston Illinois to see who attended. It would help me figure out the family politics leading up to the birth of my father two months later.


Kerry Scott June 22, 2013 at 8:31 am

I would soooooo go with you to that wedding.


Margaret June 22, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I would go back to 1863 when by 2nd great-grandpa was granted leave as a Confederate Cavalry men to go “attend to important business in Chatham and Effingham County, Georgia.” Does he to visit his wife, Annie and toddler son? Where the heck was he on the 1860 census?!? Who is this mysterious woman I have a picture of in the family album (labeled Maggie)? Why did his wife Annie move from New York to Savannah? Did she feel weird being a Northerner in a Southern state during the war? Of course there are other times I’d love to visit, including when my grandmother ran off to Cuba in 1925 to ask her sister’s advice about marrying my grandpa (and he followed her there!). They did get married in Key West on the way back. But I’d like to see what they wore.


Kerry Scott June 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Oh, the outfits. I’d Instagram the outfits for sure.


Greta Koehl June 23, 2013 at 10:24 am

So the first important question is: Which Doctor would I go with? Tom Baker, of course. Or maybe Christopher Eccleston. Then where and when. That would be to White Bead Hill in what is now Garvin County, Oklahoma, on 3 December 1891 to the wedding of my great-grandfather Hiram Carroll Brinlee, Jr. to my great-grandmother Susan Elizabeth Smith, who is my biggest “brick wall.” First I’d have her tell me everything about her family that she can possibly remember, starting with the names of her parents (not so sure she knew much about her father). Then I’d ask “Dink” (Hiram) who the heck his paternal grandparents were (another brick wall). And what was behind the murder charges brought against his father Hiram Sr. and Uncle George during the Republic of Texas days. And why his brothers David Francis and William Hiram killed a guy, and did Hiram Sr. really go nearly broke paying for their legal representation. And then …


Kerry Scott June 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I’m tickled by your first line, because I’m working my way through the old Doctor Who episodes now, and I’m on the Tom Baker era. I’m thinking of knitting his scarf.

I would pick David Tennant. No question.


Greta Koehl June 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Got a 7′ Tom Baker scarf at one of the Boskones (SF convention) back in the day. Now I have to keep an eye on my younger daughter to make sure that she doesn’t steal it from me….


Kerry Scott June 27, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I found a knitting kit for the scarf (apparently THAT many people want to knit it, even 30 years later). The original was supposedly 20 feet long. That’s a LOT of knitting.


Jacquie June 23, 2013 at 10:36 am

It’s a toss up. My 3x gr grandfather, Hiram R. Dunbar born 1807, Paris KY died 1880, Kansas. I’d like to interview him ca 1875. His life was like a history book, he went with his oldest son John to the CA gold rush and came back rich (how?), his 4 sons fought in the Civil War, he owned land in Kansas as part of the Homesteading act. And why did you name a son, Rice Dunbar? So many questions.

The other person would be my husband’s gr-grandmother TInney Ambellan, came to the US in the 1890′s with her 5 children and stated over and over she was a widow. The facts are she was never married. Do all of the children have the same father? Or perhaps ask Tinney’s father who went to city hall each time, telling the clerk, “Yes, Tinney had another child, no father.” Wow!


Paul July 5, 2013 at 3:19 am

Think I would choose about 9 months before a relative was born to see who her mother was dating. Grab some of his DNA and see if he was the father.


Hedy July 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm

My dad’s conception, to figure out whether the man on his birth certificate is his father,


Kerry Scott July 10, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I think we all have a few of those situations in our tree. It’s probably a good thing we can’t time travel, because tapping on the shoulder of the guy at the time of conception and saying, “Excuse me sir, but could I have your name please?” is probably bad manners.


Heather August 24, 2013 at 10:12 am

I was about to do a post just like this. Great minds think alike I guess. I think I’ll actually do it as a series. TARDIS Tuesdays does sound lovely :)

I would go to Canada during the life of my grandmother, and try to find out about her parents. She grew up in a foster home in Montreal, and I don’t have enough information to find out about her mother or her foster family. She finally told me enough her mother that I know where she is buried, but not where she came from. But who her father was is still a total mystery. It being Canada, I may die before any information on them is released.


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