|One brother shot the other!|
Why Would a Sibling Shoot?
As family researchers we often lump the family in groups - “They were “religious people.” Were they? All of them? We can take a look at our own sibling interactions to understand the gamut of possibilities. I had 3 brothers, none of them are alike. Their personalities were more disparate than Kansas seasons. Sometimes I wonder if siblings were raised under the same household. Ask about one event, you get three totally different experiences. Only the place and time - the where and when - seems to be in accord. The what happened is from the perspective of the who tells it, which means it would take an experienced excavator to uncover the truth.
Our ancestors were no different. We can easily identify the affluent sibling, the entrepreneur or educated one. There’s the sibling that has a trail of court records and those who have written self-promoting manifestos allowing family researchers to more easily assess a personality type because his “truth” can be either supported or in conflict with the documents.
|Example of a transcript|
With family research and closer reviews of the sibling dynamics, I’m left with wondering which one was the bully or perhaps the aloof one or controlling one. There always seems to be a selfish or narcissistic one. And it never fails, one is always a persistent victim. Even after reading and studying birth order characteristics, we can not necessarily define a personality sets, because there is no set answer when defining the “who,” not even with a Myers Briggs analysis.
Correspondence and Letters
Just like today, a visit from a sibling does not mean the relationship is one bound by love. Perhaps it’s by obligation. Perhaps it was a strained visit. Think of your last family gathering. Our genealogical records do not openly show us the dynamics. But, through correspondence we may assess a relationship substantially.
We sometimes uncover a personality through our ancestors’ journals or written accounts by others. A documented personal account of an incident, hurt or loss may give us a peek into our ancestor’s relationships. We mustn’t overlook small hints.
Not all correspondence is from family jus sanguinis. Our hints to an ancestor's personality or family dynamics may come from letters written by close friends - “family of the heart.” These types of notes give us a peek at who our ancestor was to other people. They may be our only clue to an ancestor’s true personality.
No Longer the Family Secret
Not so long ago it was uncommon to “air dirty laundry”; few family members were transparent. They would not have considered openly journalling family feuds or unpleasant events. The “happy perfect family” appearance was always the same to the “outer world.”
With present day social media the next generation genealogists will be able to capture much more. The move toward transparency and scanning of personal affects will assist in our research. The most personal depositions are beginning to appear online. I have even come across online where a person declared himself a prophet and was entangled with a church scandal. Although the dramatics are of Hollywood quality, for the genealogist the accompanying church depositions highlighted personality traits. Since church records are often the key to our genealogical research, these scanned public records should not be overlooked.
Where to Look
Be sure to closely analyze documents, letters, church records, school records, and even employee notes for more hints to sibling and family dynamics. Newspaper articles also may reveal our ancestor’s true character. By all means, don’t assume family dynamics without assessing the evidence.
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