Friday, March 8, 2013

Women's History Month: Pattern of Children of My Female Ancestors

Lorine at Olive Tree Genealogy posted an interesting genealogical topic for Women's History Month, so here is my offering.

Make a list of your female ancestors beginning with your mother. Go back as far as you can. Now figure out how many children each female ancestor had. Did the females in your direct maternal line tend to have the same numbers of children each generation? Did they have more? Less? Were they prolific or are there few children born to each woman? Is there a pattern emerging?

I decided to go back 5 generations, and found no particular pattern other than there were more GIRLS born than BOYS!  I found that very surprising for some reason. The photo above on the left is my mother's line: she is the 2 year old Mary, in her mother Marguerite's arms; left is Clara, talking with her mother Hattie, aged about 97.

Maternal Line:
3rd Greatgrandmother Sabra ORMSBEE      5 – 1 boy,   4 girls
2nd Greatgrandmother Hattie GRAVES        3 –    ……   3 girls
Great-grandmother Clara TERWILLIGER      3 – 2 boys, 1 girl                          
Grandmother Marguerite KUHN                   6 – 2 boys, 4 girls
My Mother Mary GILLESPIE                       3 – 1 boy,   2 girls

Paternal Line:
2nd Greatgrandmother Eliza MORRISON      4 – 3 boys, 1 girl
Greatgrandmother Catherine ARMSTRONG  4 – 3 boys, 1 girl
(other) Greatgrandmo Sarah WHITEHOUSE  9 – 3 boys, 6 girls
Grandmother Harriett BUNN                         6 – 2 boys, 4 girls

This makes 43 children total, with 17 boys, 26 girls
As for me:
I had 4 children:  2 boys, 2 girls; and with 6 grandchildren, I have 1 boy, 5 girls!

I'm not finding anything else unusual about these women.  In about 1879 or 1880, my Paternal line moved in one group of 3 generations including my Greatgrandmother Catherine & her mother-in-law Eliza, from Northern Ireland to north-west England for work reasons. My Maternal line lived in New York state and NJ state for a number of generations - I stopped at 5 generations, but can go back on a number of lines another 5 generations.  In 1912 my Grandmother Marguerite moved with her husband to BC Canada  where all the children (but one) were born.  She travelled back and forth across the continent with her 5 living children a number of times to visit with her relatives and many friends in New York state and New Jersey as well.

My Maternal line (up to the 1930s) were relatively wealthy, husbands were entrepreneurs and business builders; whereas my Paternal line was quite a bit poorer - individuals were very good at school but had to leave early to work.  The Paternal line brothers all did quite well in BC Canada, immigrating here in 3 groups: 1907, 1911, and 1914.  There was little travel back to England, although my grandfather's only sister did come out to visit several times from England.  

Try this analysis on your own family tree and ask questions about any patterns you might see, about their child-bearing:  ages of mothers at 1st and last child?  sexes?  twins?  any unusual gaps?  ages of those babies who died young (under 2)?  Think about other activities or events either locally or internationally that might have impacted on your "mothers".  

If you have any questions or want to follow up on any of the information in this post, do contact me either by replying with details in the Comments section, or through  calewis at telus dot net   (you know what to substitute there).  


Patricia Dever said...

What another interesting way to explore our female ancestors! And you can go back so many generations! I will give this a try and let you know what I discover!

Celia Lewis said...

Thanks for visiting, Patricia - I thought it was unusual too, and I was totally surprised at the imbalance of boys and girls in our history. Somehow I'd thought we were roughly equal boys:girls. Nope. Not so.


Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis