Why “luck” ended my #52Ancestors pursuits

After ten weeks of following Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompts I decided it was time to move on.

I was finding myself diverted from my own blogging to only focusing on how to come up with a post that aligned with the #52Ancestors weekly theme.

The prompt “luck” did me in. I just couldn’t come up with a post that fit the prompt.

Was it “luck” that allowed a New England pioneer immigrant settlement to only lose 80% of its families to an Indian massacre? Was it “luck”, then, that the men were out hunting when disaster struck and women and children were either brutally killed — or tortured and killed — or carried off by the raiders as booty from settlements in New Hampshire and Maine to Canada? Was it “luck” that some of those captured managed to escape and make their way back home? Was it “luck” that the raiders only burned the village to the ground but left the cattle standing in the fields?

We associate “luck” with something positive that happens to or for us. My primary focus on this blog is my New England ancestors, those brave and, perhaps foolhardy in some minds, early generations of pioneers who carved out a home and a future in the New England wilderness.

I do not consider it “luck” that I am here. For example, I look upon those ancestors who survived the Salem witchcraft madness as fortunate, not “lucky”.

I do not consider it “luck” that so many survived times of severe weather — like the Great Hurricane of 1635 or the Great Snow of 1717 — or pestilence and illness or other misfortunes.

I do not find a single “lucky” one among hundreds of them. What I do find is determination, perseverance, diligence, steadfastness, and devotion to family, friends, community, and, at one time, king and country.

Those who overcame adversity were not “lucky” by any definition.

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10 Responses to Why “luck” ended my #52Ancestors pursuits

  1. I think you’ve identified a problem with writing prompts in general. If they distract from what we really want to say or cause us to force the writing to fit the theme, they’re not helpful.


  2. Amy says:

    As Liz said, prompts shouldn’t distract us from what we want to say. The prompts for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks are there to help spark ideas, not to force anyone to write about something specific. (It’s why the prompts are vague to allow for interpretation.) If the prompt or theme for that week doesn’t fit anything, then write about something else. My experience is that most people get stuck on the ideas of what to write about. For someone like yourself who has lots of ideas and a plan to write about them, then the prompts are less useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LuJean H says:

    Thank you for your perspective on luck. I think people also use the word “luck” when something happens that is unexplainable. I prefer to call it miraculous, because then credit is given where credit is due. Are you going to stop writing #52Ancrstors prompts?


  4. LuJean H says:

    After rereading your post I saw the answer to my question. May you have success with your future posts.


  5. Brenda J. Elliott says:

    Yes. After the first half dozen or so I found the prompts frustrating my thinking. As Amy noted, I have a clear vision of what I want to write about.

    I am in the process of updating all the family profiles I created in 2004 (there are hundreds of them on both my and my husband’s sides) and which were updated to some extent around 2015. I have a clear vision of what I need to do with those and as I go along will do blog posts on what I find interesting and useful for others.


  6. LuJean H says:

    What a worthy pursuit! I am a bit jealous of your clear vision. I am brand new to this family history blogging. The prompts seem perfect for dabblers like me. Perhaps they will help me develop a clear vision.


  7. Brenda J. Elliott says:

    My only advice regarding finding a clear vision is very simple. Ask yourself what you want your “product” to be and then work at it. Writing always includes (or should include) revisions. So should family histories. Be not afraid!!


  8. Anne says:

    I respect your clarity about what you’re writing – and I like your blog! I started #52Ancestors because I didn’t have that and the prompts were useful. To be honest, I find myself wanting to go back to the same people all the time because I like their stories the best. But what I really want to do is just write about different people or couples or families and am finding the prompts don’t fit that. They’re still useful as nudges to make me write when I might not otherwise. I was thinking this morning about pulling my #52Ancestors posts together for a book for the family when I’ve completed the cycle, and I still think that may be helpful as a motivation. I’ll be back to read more about your New England ancestors 🙂


  9. Brenda J. Elliott says:

    Thank you. I plan to assemble all my blog posts into a booklet at some point. I copy each one as I go along into a Word file, making sure to include any footnotes and convert embedded links to footnotes as well. As long as I keep up with the “plan” then I should not fall behind — or at least not too far.


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