Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Saturday Challenge- Life Decisions That Changed A Life

From Randy Seaver's GeneaMusings: Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music):

1)  Did you or your ancestor make a critical life decision that really changed their life in terms of place, work, family, relationships, etc.?

Life decisions. How often do we make such decisions and not realize what they are? Going to a new place one day we meet somebody new that turns out to be very important in our lives. Taking a job that turns out to be the opportunity that we never dreamed was right around the corner. These simple little things can change our lives and we never realize when making the decision how important they might be.

Other times, we agonize over our decisions. Should I do this or do that? Which is better for me? They seem like big decisions and sometimes they are, but other times they might not matter at all.

For our ancestors, often a large decision that did have lasting effects and changed their lives drastically as well as that of their descendants was the decision about immigrating. For some in my family it was the decision to leave Europe and come to America and for others, it was to move on from a settlement in the eastern part of the United States and move farther west. There are countless examples of this.

My own grandmother, Alice Jennings made a decision of this type one day in 1912. Her older sister, Elizabeth, was home visiting the family. She encouraged her sister to come back to America with her.  Home, Keelinga Leap, County Cork, Ireland, was a place of little chance for advancement and a small community with many people inter-related. Elizabeth supposedly told Alice: “You can do a lot better than staying here and marrying your cousin.”

On October 8, 1912 Alice arrived in Boston, Massachusetts. There she worked as a waitress for a time and then enrolled in a school that was being offered for young women of little means. The school was on a small island in Boston Harbor, called Long Island, and offered her education for a career as a nurse. A professional or as it was beginning to be called, a registered nurse.

The outbreak of World War I and the US involvement offered her another life changing decision that built on the one of becoming a nurse. She now was a nurse in the Army Nurse’s Corp. and being sent to Fort Brown in Texas. Although the destination probably didn’t mean much to her at the time, it was a place for even more life changing events to happen. There she met many new people, nurses, and soldiers in the Calvary that was stationed there. In particular, one soldier caught her eye. A young man from Upstate New York by the name of Marion Wooster.

The course of her life changed and she never returned to Massachusetts to live. Instead, she married Marion and they lived in Washington, DC for a time after she left the service. Here, she would give birth to her oldest, Robert. Later they would settle in Skaneateles, New York, where her other three children would be born.

All these decisions, the larger ones, were made up of many smaller decisions that led to them and charted out a course of life that was surely very different from what she might have imagined as a young girl.

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