I’m not retiring from genealogy.

But do you track when your ancestor retired from their regular job? I realize that not everyone lives long enough to retire or is financially able to retire, but some people do. Is that retirement date something you try and find out?

My Mom taught for forty years and I realize now that I don’t have in my genealogy notes when she stopped teaching school full time. She substitute taught for many years after that–but only in the district where she spent her career and only in the primary grades. My Dad never retired and passed away while driving his truck after checking his cattle–on the same gravel road where he had walked to school as a mall child.

Knowing if your ancestor retired (or not) tells you something about them. If they worked another job after “retirement” that says something as well. I had one farming ancestor who retired once he had acquired enough real estate to start all his sons in farming. The father rented his land to his sons and retired. That ancestor is atypical as most of my farming ancestors continued to farm in some capacity until their death or until an illness prevented them from doing so. I need to track those illnesses as well.

Retirement may meaning moving or spending part of the year in a warmer locale. One set of my grandparents wintered in Florida after they stopped farming. My other set stayed on the farm their entire life and actively farmed as long as their health permitted. At some point as his health declined that grandfather had to give up the milk cows as he simply could not physically do it any longer. His wife eventually had to give up the chickens when she could no longer care for them either.

There are many things we track in our ancestor’s lives and those things are important. There are transitions in the lives of our more recent ancestors (and ourselves) that we may wish to track as well. Sometimes those bridges are just as monumental as the vital events that genealogists track.

I don’t remember my Grandpa so the getting rid of the milk cows does not resonate with me–it was well before I was born. But Grandma having to get rid of her chickens was that moment when I realized that she wasn’t going to be around forever. Her death generated more records to be certain.

But the events that tug at our heartstrings are just as important as well.




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