Biographical Details

You never know when you are going to come across small biographical details. Today, I set myself the task of looking for information about the marriage of Aaron Jackson (father of Jesse Taylor Jackson) and Abigail Taylor. For some reason, there doesn’t seem to be much information available. A simple search yielded only a Millennium File entry and a few member trees, none of which included sources for the marriage. That’s odd, too, because there is quite a bit of information about his father Robert Jackson, and his son, Jesse Taylor Jackson. Unfortunately, The Millennium File is a compendium of extracts from Ancestry File, and though it is a useful starting point when looking for information, it isn’t always the most reliable of sources, and does not contain any documentation. My policy is to reference it, but not rely on it as a sole source.

Fortunately for us, there is a biography of Jesse Taylor Jackson available in manuscript form, and thanks to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, it is even available online. Unfortunately, I still don’t have much in the way of details, but the one reference (so far) to the marriage of Aaron and Abigail does include an interesting family tradition:

When Aaron Jackson was in his early twenties, he married Abigail Taylor. She was born in the state of New York,but family records do not have any further information about her early life. Family tradition tells that she was a large, powerful woman; that she could lift large bags of flour and grain with ease. I know she produced two stalwart sons; namely, Robert Andrew and Jesse Taylor Jackson, and possibly her other children were of good size (Autobiography of Jesse Taylor Jackson, p. 6).

I have no idea of what the origin of this tradition is, or if it can be corroborated, but it does an add a bit of interesting color to the Jackson Family story. Finding details like this can be a slow process, and one that requires us to look for letters, journal entries and, if we’re lucky, Quaker Meeting minutes and similar sources.

So, how can you go about finding details like this in the stories of your ancestors? First and foremost, ask. If you have grandparents or aunts and uncles, that can tell you about your family story, sit down and talk to them. You may even wish to consider formal interviews. You may be fortunate enough to have ancestors such as Quakers or Mormons who maintained journals, meeting minutes and other records. Or, for that matter, you may be fortunate enough to have an ancestor who kept a regular journal or diary. Other people keep letters that may be available to you. The only thing to do is ask.