2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 46 (Nov. 11 – Nov. 17): Poor Man

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 46 (Nov. 11 – Nov. 17): Poor Man

I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!


In thinking of who… or even how to write this post, I pondered on “poor”… with poor meaning to have no money first coming to mind. While many of my ancestors grew up poor… I never saw them as poor.

My mother talked about growing up poor… that she often wasn’t able to participate in school activities because she was “just a poor farm girl.” But even though she perceived herself that way… she never went without food or clothes, which was what her parents felt was all they needed to provide in those times. My grandfather provided for his family as a farmer… growing crops to sell, as well as growing vegetables for the family… there were dairy cows for milk, and pigs raised for meat. Their table was never sparse in food served… no one left the table with an empty belly… although my mother has told of  a few times that she said out loud in not liking something served on the table… and how  her father quickly sent her to bed hungry; grandmama usually slipped something later to her though. When looking at young photographs of my parents, born in 1928 and 1930… they portray the look of poor as they stand posing for photographs… barefoot in their dirt yards.


My father (center) with his brother and aunt… but like most girls though she wanted her shoes on. Having a dirt front yard… why wear shoes to dirty!

While I’ve never considered my mother growing up poor… I do believe her parents in the previous generation experienced poor times in growing up. That was more of the generation where clothes, and even shoes were passed down through the family until worn out in wear. My grandmother told of only having one new pair of shoes yearly… and often went barefoot around the house to ensure they lasted.

I’ve heard stories of how my grandfather had holes in his shoes and he’d put cardboard inside his shoes to continue wearing. Today, no one wears shoes with holes in them, especially on the bottom. In their times, shoes were almost considered a luxury… while today we consider them a necessity and we’re afforded way more than one pair a year.

Lawson Mckinley with family clip

This photograph of my grandfather’s family show a couple of the younger brothers and the baby barefoot, but the young girl wore shoes.

The children in my grandparents generation were needed in the family and not usually afforded the luxury of always going to school for an education. It was considered that they were needed more to help on the farm than to go to school… especially if you lived on a farm. Most times in the early census you’ll see that many had no more than a 4th grade education; it was usually the girls who were afforded a more longer stay in school.

My husband’s grandfather’s both came from Italy and Sicily and arrived in the United States poor… who wouldn’t be considered poor upon arriving with only twenty-five dollars in their pockets and often having no family to depend on. I can’t even imagine being that strong!

Even though my grandparents grew up poor, they both worked hard which resulted in a better life for them as adults and their children; they both built and owned their own homes… there was always food on the table… they owned cars… and their children, like most generations, were afforded more luxuries than they had known.


Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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