Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ancestors and Occupations

Yesterday I took my two boys (ages 7 and 4) to the Tennessee State Museum for Egyptian Family Day. It is the first time they have been to a museum and it was a very different experience than going with just my husband. They loved it and my 7 year old thanked me over and over for a planning such a great activity (this more than made up for missing the genealogy meeting that day).

At any rate, the boys move quickly and the experience was; if you blinked, you missed it. They were fascinated with the Civil War guns and swords on display so they slowed down for that, and of course with the Egyptian crafts that the museum was hosting.

What caught my eye was a Cabinet Making display/area. My ggg grandfather Richard William Gunter was a cabinet maker. Lately I've been wondering what he made, and if I would be able to track any of it down. This display also got me thinking about the artistry of the craft. I also wondered who he would have apprenticed with. Of course I ended up with more questions than answers. No surprise there.

After getting the kids to bed last night, I googled cabinet making and 1800's. I also checked out google books. There is a lot of information out there, but not really much for me to grab onto. My search will continue and I'll have to go interview a few of the antique dealers in the area. There is also a restoration specialist on my list to speak with.

Occupations define people and it tells you something about them. Richard Gunter had a life long stuttering problem, so I can see why cabinet making would appeal to him. It even gives you clues about their personality. For example, I would imagine wood working requires a certain amount of patience and creative vision. To be a clerk in a store would require literacy, math skills, and a social nature. You get the idea. Even if all of your people were farmers, they would have to enjoy working with the soil, animals, and the elements outside. Also, what did they farm and why? Investigating these questions and your ancestor's occupation adds dimension to their character.

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