Generations

•6 December 2007 • Leave a Comment

This week a man I went to school with passed away. His death at age 61 reminded me once again of the fragility of life, and yet the continuity of life. His two children will carry his heritage on into the future, as my own will do.

With this changing of the guard, so to speak, I remembered a precious 5-generation picture of my children, myself, my dad, my grandmother, and my great-grandfather. Here is that photo:

Dees 5 generation

From left (on the sofa): Roxie Dees Gaultney, Thomas Luther Dees,  Ezra Floyd Gaultney, Jr, Carol Anne Gaultney Stone. On my lap is Christa Hope Stone. On the floor from left: Mary Elizabeth Stone, William Jeffrey Stone, and John Douglas Stone.

I hope my children do carry on with what I’ve started. Now my duty is to do what I can to get my records into shape and do as much family history research and sourcing as possible in the time I have left in this plane of existence.

Honoring Our Veteran Ancestors

•12 November 2007 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. When I think of all the sacrifices of my ancestors, I can’t forget the wars they fought in to preserve our way of life. This photo is of my grandmother Beulah’s second husband, Jim Evans. He was a father figure to me, and just recently I discovered this picture of him in his WW I uniform. He served in France. I can’t help but post this with pride.

 Jim Evans

The Importance of Being Labeled

•10 November 2007 • Leave a Comment

Nena Beulah     Nena Roxie

Recently I wrote an article about my grandmothers, both dear to me. I thought I’d share these pictures of them taken at about the same time.

These pictures are easy to identify and most of my old pictures are. When I come across a picture that isn’t labeled, I immediately use a pencil and gently write the name and information about the person on the back. That way, if my kids or grandkids come across pictures after I’m gone, they simply can turn them  over and see who the people are. I’ve been so frustrated at times by photos that aren’t labeled. I found lots of these when my Nena Beulah (on the left) died. She had her mother’s photo boxes, along with some of her own, and those of her several husband’s, all in the attic. Naming some of the people in them was impossible.

So take my advice, please, and save yourself heartache and disappointment. Go through your photos while some of your older relatives are still living. Take those photos around to those dear older people and see if they can be identified. Then label those pictures while you can!

Just do it!

Proof

•9 November 2007 • Leave a Comment

Wouldn’t you like to find that everything other people submit to those sites like ancestry.com is posted complete with sources?

All I did was follow a “hint” at ancestry, and bingo! Generation after generation of ancestors apparent popped up. With each new 5-generation chart, more climbed out of the dusty past. When the deluge slowed, the names were Roman and the dates were in the area of B.C.

snorts

Now what self-respecting genealogist would take any of that at face value?

Infinitely disappointed, I simply started over, and decided that all those “hints” would be taken with a grain of salt until proven.

Now I know that we will never prove everything we uncover and believe to be true, but I would like to try to prove as much as possible. There’s just something about having all these beautifully lengthy ancestral lines and knowing that they cannot possibly be proven. I accept that fact. Besides life is too short to spend all of it trying to prove things that are impossible.

My new goal is to prove what I can and what I can’t prove, then i’ll simply enjoy the possibility of it being true. But I won’t chart it except with a caveat to warn others that from this point on, everything is speculation.

Conflicting Information

•9 November 2007 • Leave a Comment

What can you do when you come across information which conflicts with previously gathered info? That’s the dilemma I am in today.

My Dees family has been fairly easy to trace until I try to link Bluford Dees with his parents, and until I try to discover the true surname for his wife, Phebe/Phoebe.

I have a source (the Morman’s wonderful index called IGI, focus on Kentucky) which gives their daughter, Rhoda Ann Dees (born 5 Oct 1849), as being the daughter of Luford (obviously Bluford) Dees and Phebe Bryant. Now up until I found this source in 1994, I believed (from family tradition) that Phebe’s maiden name was Downing. But the surname Bryant now enters the picture.

Also in the 1850 Federal census of Marshall Co, KY, there are Downing families, as well as my Bluford and Phebe, daughter Rhoda and another child, Caroline Chandler. Is Caroline a daughter of Phebe’s by a previous marriage? There are only two years differing in Caroline and Rhoda’s ages (Caroline, 3; and Rhoda, 1). Also another confusing fact: in these Downing families are two men with the given name Bryant. Soooo.. is Bryant a family surname from previous generations that has been used as given names?

In the Ancestry.com site, I came across a researcher who has given a birthdate for Phebe other than the abt 1822 that I’ve carried for years. This researcher says that Phebe (born 26 Jan 1822) is the daughter of William Downing (born 1791; died 22 Nov 1858) and Rhoda Fitzgerrald. This would make a lot of sense because Phebe has named her daughter Rhoda, and I also know she and Bluford had a son named William. But how can I trust this source?

So the dilemma remains. How can I bridge this generation’s gap? How can I find proof positive of the link? I’m still thinking on that. I’ve written an email to the researcher who gave the information on Ancestry.com, and hopefully will hear from him/her soon with their source information for linking Phebe with William Downing and Rhoda Fitzgerrald. But unless I do, or until I do, I have to keep searching.

The luxury of a research trip to the area in Kentucky is not feasible right now, but perhaps in the future. Searching prime sources can be a time consuming and a tedious and tiring procedure, but it is still the best way to find proofs for certain pieces of information.

Well, enough of this today. That is my puzzle this day, my dilemma, my quest. Wish me luck!

Medieval Cemetery Discovered

•9 November 2007 • Leave a Comment

While reading other genealogy blogs, I found the following article on Olive Tree Genealogy Blog.

The blog’s article focused on an area of England where my own ancestors once lived, so naturally I was instantly aroused. I’ve only given the start of the article, but you can read more by following the link.

A large medieval cemetery containing around 1,300 skeletons has been discovered in the central English city of Leicester, the find promises to shed new light on the way people lived and died in the Middle Ages.The graveyard was probably used from the 12th century until the demolition of a church at the site in 1573.

To read the rest of this article, go here.

Grandmothers

•9 November 2007 • Leave a Comment

My two grandmothers were born within a year of each other, lived within 20 miles of each other (one in Arkansas. the other in Missouri) most of their lives, married at about the same age, and died within a year of each other. I was blessed to have them until about seven years ago. My grandmothers were vastly different in personality and stature, but each was uniquely special.

My father’s mother, Nena Roxie, was a tall, bony woman, not overweight, but large and loud. Her voice could wake the dead, and often did wake the sleeping. I say these things with much love. I remember talking on the phone once with a distant cousin who was also researching the family genealogy. He was an elderly gentleman and when I introduced myself, he laughed and said he remembered those Dees girls. He said they could out-talk and over-talk anyone alive. He was right. The get-togethers included a volume of speaking and laughing that would deafen anyone within two or three rooms away. I think they were raised talking loudly because their mother had been nearly deaf since a childhood ilness, and their father had become so. Loud talking was necessary in that household. Over my 60 years, I’ve had to learn to tone my own voice down, because I inherited Nena Roxie’s voice, and my older daughter did, as well. I used to hate that, but now I feel so privileged to have that part of her. She loved so well and so deeply and so without condition. Oh, did I mention, I also inherited her size and body shape, except that now I realize as I grow older that I’m not quite as tall or bony. I’m just large. Where she was large-boned, I’m just fat. I don’t think it’s genetic in my case; I’ve just not taken care to watch my eating or get enough exercise.

My other grandmother, Nena Beulah, was a shorter person, about 5’4″, and I only remember one period during which she was a little chubby. The rest of her life, she was either too thin, or what I would term just right. She was built like a brick outhouse, though. She was not a dominating person, nor was she very loud. Her whole purpose in life, it seemed, was to do for others. She would always hop up to serve, rarely sitting down at a meal until it was nearly over. When deciding where to go out to eat, she would never cast the deciding vote, but would go with what everyone else wanted. She was a meticulous housekeeper, where Nena Roxie took care of what was really necessary and left the rest while she did something else — like read or go bowling. Both grandmothers loved people… and men. Nena Roxie married three times, and Nena Beulah married four.

Both women only had one child. My mother and my father shared the distinction of being only children. Both were spoiled, of course, and neither had many life survival skills because of that. My grandmothers were hard workers. One of my grandfather’s (Nena Roxie’s husband) was ill most of his life and died young (age 59). Nena Beulah and my grandfather divorced when my mother was a child, so I don’t remember them being together at all. I remember Nena Beulah’s husband as being Jim Evans, the older and very wonderful man who was around when I was growing up. Jim was retired and ill then, too, when I was an impressionable teenager. So Nena Beulah worked hard to make ends meet. You see, she and Jim had taken me and my younger brother, Mike, to raise. I spent months at a time with Nena Roxie and Papa Ezra, as well, but the majority of time was with my maternal grandmother, Beulah, and Jim.

Both Beulah and Roxie lived well into their 90’s, though their lives at the end were sadly different. Roxie had a mind sharp as a tack, though a stroke had taken her ability to communicate well with others. She could speak a few words and when really eager to say something could begin and nearly finish a sentence, but she was there. Her mind was there in her paralized shell. Beulah was healthy as a horse, as the saying goes, but her mind was gone. She suffered dementia, and if not for her devoted fourth husband, Fred Castleman, she would have had to be placed in nursing care long before she actually was. I will never forget the vacant look in her eyes toward the end. She was gone, long before her body gave up.

I like to think, and I do hope, that I’ve inherited much of the good in both of these fine ladies. I know I have qualities and some physical attributes from both. They were loving beyond compare, and never withheld the unconditional love of a grandmother.

Why Genealogy?

•9 November 2007 • 1 Comment

Today I look back over 42 years of marriage and see the longevity of a relationship. With this same sense of permanence, I look over the tree that forms my ancestry. My genealogy. My history. My genetic and cultural paths into this world. With the grace of God, this part of me that was once bound in the past with all those unnamed ancestors will continue into the future with descendants I cannot even imagine. A weird bit of philosophy coming from me, the one who needs or seeks proof in everything, and yet I have faith that the good (and unfortunately the bad) in all of us is not new or unique. Those things have lived before and will be born in the future.

Why genealogy? Why this curiosity about my roots? All I know is that as a child I was surrounded by older adults who told stories of their past and of those who had already passed on to their rewards, as it was put. On Sunday afternoons I would sit in a lawn chair in the shade of an old oak tree and listen for hours to the stories that were told over iced tea or dr. pepper. Perhaps these things from my childhood placed a curiosity within me for seeking out who I am and from whom I come. Perhaps these stories and times also implanted a love for history that would not truly blossom until many years later when I lived in a place that screamed tradition and history — Charleston, South Carolina.

A high school research paper had been a daunting prospect until I decided to research my family history as the basis for the project. It was a start. It was the spark that set off a love of genealogy that has spanned 45-here-or-take-a-few-years of searching for that past that combines within me to make up who I am and from where I come.