Whenever anyone asks the questions, “If you could go back in time and...” my audio memory starts playing the chorus to Cher’s song “If I Could Turn Back Time.” The song doesn’t refer to the kinds of time traveler questions but the song just won’t leave my mind.
Time Traveling is the theme of many books and movies. Dr. Who, Hermonie Granger in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AZKABAN, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh, and Timeline by Michael Crichton. And the idea of traveling back in time has been the subject of many of my dreams. But which ancestor should I visit if I have to choose one?
The frequent subject of my time travels would involve appearing to observe my 3rd great grandfather Joseph Geiszler. I want to go back to the day before he left Baden and made his journey to Franklin County, Ohio. Be warned, I have bad motion sickness strike me (be it speedboat, airplane or car), so I hope I don’t start projectile vomiting and draw undue attention to myself.
My time traveling motto would be to Observe Without Interfering. I will need to have the voice modulator/translator device that Michael Crichton’s protagonists used to understand 14th Century French but altered to understand 19th Century Baden’s version of German. I know I’d alter history if I interacted too much with Joseph directly.
Instead, I would interact with Joseph’s fellow travelers along the journey and avoid taking with Joseph as much as possible. If needed, I would make use of my modern hearing impairment as an excuse to not talk much. Thus, when I ask a question it would be for clarification of names and such. The rest I could likely learn through observation.
I want to see who he’s traveling with, his mood, and how he interacts with others. I want to follow his journey from the inland Germanic Duchy to the harbor, across the ocean, to the American port, and west to Ohio. I want to see what the weather was like, how much the journey cost, and how long it took. Most importantly, I’ll make note of the year this occurred and his age, both of which I can only speculate.
As we travel, I hope to discover why he chose the little village of Prairie Township in Franklin County, Ohio. Maybe I’ll see just how quickly he meets his wife. Or not. Perhaps I’ll discover why he seemed to have settled in Ohio alone.
Hopefully, these clues would let history remain as is was but I can return with more knowledge to expand Joseph’s story.
On the way back to the present day, I hope to have the time-traveling device will have a hiccup on July 5, 1863, the day I believe Joseph died. I’d like to determine if the family legend regarding his death is accurate and what the discrepancies might be.
Then the machine can whisk me back to the present day and hopefully, I have a head full of knowledge that I’m bursting to share.