Last Friday was a genealogist’s dream – I received five deeds and three probate files in the mail. Of particular interest was the probate record for my 5th Great Grandfather, Thomas Wasgatt, who died 19 May 1820. Shown above is the signature of his wife, Hannah (Thomas) Wasgatt, who acknowledged in writing her “allowance” from her husband’s estate. While most of Hannah’s female peers were giving their “mark” when a signature was necessary, she was able to write her name.
Hannah wasn’t the only smarty pants in the family. Nope, her husband Thomas clearly was a learned man. I was so tickled to find that the very first item listed in the inventory of his possessions was a desk.
A business man, Thomas had owned several mills in the Eden (now Bar Harbor) area, most of which he’d sold to his son, Thomas the 3rd. I envision my ancestor sitting at his desk with a quill and ink, balancing his ledgers and other business accounts by candle light. Or maybe this is where he did his reading? His “Library” was also included on the inventory and was valued at $2.25.
The decanters shown above also give another glimpse into Thomas’ life – he must have enjoyed wine and entertaining to have such items among his household possessions.
While this particular probate did not yield any extraordinary genealogical clues, I couldn’t have been more pleased with it. To see that some of the things I value the most – education, learning, reading – were also clearly important to Thomas made me do a happy dance.
Genealogy is so much more than names and dates and places. Those are certainly important, but finding the people that lived, to learn about their lives and their history, is what makes genealogy fun.