Thursday, November 21, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jesse Vawter

Inspired by Geneabloggers' theme, Treasure Chest Thursdays, I am going to take the next few Thursdays to talk about some of my "favorite" ancestors. The theme is supposed to be about an heirloom, but I think I'll switch it up a bit to talk about treasured people instead. So this week I will highlight my 6th great-grandfather, Jesse Vawter.
Jesse Vawter was born on December 1, 1755 in Culpeper County, Virginia. As far as I know, he was the first ancestor of mine to come to Indiana Territory, in 1806, shortly after it opened up for settlement. He was married to Elizabeth Watts on March 29, 1781. They had nine children, and lived in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and eventually Indiana. He died on March 20, 1838 in Madison, Jefferson County, Indiana.

Jesse is probably best known for his preachin'. In his words, he had "a mechanical turn of mind," and was a carpenter and farmer, but in the early 1800s felt the call to become a preacher in his Baptist faith. He writes, "When my mind took a turn to preaching, it was the greatest trial I ever met with." He judged himself too poorly too preach, but eventually made peace with the fact that the Lord was calling him. The first sermon he ever preached was one of the first in Indiana: "among the cottonwoods on the [Ohio] river beach, a little above the stone mill. The text was the first verse first chapter of the Gospel of St. John. It was a funeral occasion, the death of Widow Black." Jesse baptized over 800 people in Indiana alone, performed over 200 marriage ceremonies, and planted several churches in the surrounding counties. He and his family were instrumental in the spread of the Baptist faith in early southern Indiana.

Of course, I believe most genealogists are searching for more than facts. We want proof that our ancestors were people, who felt the same things we feel - love, sadness, peace, hurt. We are living proof that they lived and moved on this earth - they are our family, they helped shape who our families are today. So the true treasure of the day is about Jesse Vawter's character, in the words of his own family:

One piece describes Jesse: Jesse Vawter was a quiet, thrifty, brown-eyed, peace-loving man. One granddaughter recalls, "I can remember Grandfather well, and I love his very name." Another granddaughter, Frances (my ancestor), says of him, "Grandfather was of a gentle nature. Everyone loved him. He used to ride down horseback from Madison to see us. We would run to meet him, and he would say, "There come my chickens!" He had lost the sight of one eye in an accident. We used to slip up on his blind side and kiss him, and he would always jump as though we had surprised him greatly. He never was impatient with us."

In our search for our ancestors, let us never forget one thing: Our ancestors are first and foremost, family.

Who is your favorite ancestor? Share in the comments below, or message me on Facebook, and I might highlight your ancestor next!

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