Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

There is something renewing about the start of the new year. Every year, I try to revive that optimism I had when I was younger, sometimes with more success than other years.

Right now I am reflecting on the new year for my ancestors. There is no doubt in my mind that they had to have an optimistic view of life, especially those settlers to the New World. Since most of these early immigrants were also Puritans or Quakers, I am sure they did not celebrate the new year as we do now.

In 1803, my great-great-great-great grandfather, Dr. Jabez Percival, spent the New Year in his new house in Lawrenceburgh, Indiana. It was a double-walled log cabin. Dr. Jabez moved to Lawrenceburgh in 1801 from Freehold in Greene county, New York. He lived near the banks of the Ohio and in addition to his profession of doctor, was also a county judge.

Many years later, in Missouri, I am sure that my ancestors were hoping each new year would bring an end to the Civil War. Two of my great-great grandmothers had already lost their husbands, one in 1862 and the other in 1863. Times were really hard when women had no adult males to protect them.

In 1919, my grandfathers both hoped the New Year would send them from France to their homes in Michigan and Missouri. By the end of that summer, both would be returned to their families.

I know by January of 1945, my grandfather Percival was hoping for an end to the war and the return of his sons, whole and unharmed. John S. Percival, Sr. was a corporal in the Engineer Corps in World War I and never saw combat; he built and repaired bridges. Both sons, however, were in harms way: John, Jr in Europe and Frank in the South Pacific.

So as 2011 begins, I realize how blessed I am not to have a child away from home in a combat zone and to have my husband by my side. What more could anyone ask for.

[Sympathy Saturday will return next week.]

Copyright 2011, ACK for Gene Notes


  1. Charlie served in WWI? I had no idea! What branch? Was he in France like JSP? Spill!

  2. Grandpa Z was in the Army, a sharpshooter. He served from September 19, 1917 to August 6, 1919, offensive sector at Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse - Argonne. Defensive sector, Vesle and Toulon.

    His brother George died of typhoid from an infected well on October 13, 1918 and Grandpa didn't hear about it until well after armisitice.

    I don't think our grandfathers were in the same area. Remember JSP did not see any combat, he was an engineer. CLZ did see combat.