Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Diane Finley Parrotta 1960-2012

Diane Finley Parrotta 1960-2012

I'm most sad to report the death of my cousin Diane Jeannette Finley Parotta. She died from cancer on October 25, 2012. She was only fifty-two.  

Diane was born in Fort Worth, Texas, July 1, 1960, to Gayle Caldwell York and Dale Finley. She graduated from Alfred M. Barbe High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana, class of 1979. Shortly after the birth of her son, she moved back to Fort Worth where she worked as Chief Financial Officer for Ross and Matthews Law Firm. Diane is survived by her parents, Gayle York and Dale Finley; her sister, Karen Finley; her son, Anthony Parrotta; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.  

Diane was a lover of dogs, family, friends, and the outdoors. She was a member of the Texas Master Naturalist, the World Wildlife Organization, and the Association of Legal Administrators. Her passion for life is evident through her gardening, photography, and involvement in prairie restoration. Her extensive work and research in genealogy has brought the family closer than ever and will no doubt have a ripple effect throughout the rest of time.

Much of the above is from the fine obituary written by Diane's son, Anthony. It was Diane's work and research in genealogy, which Anthony mentions above, that brought Diane and me together. While this post shares the basic details of Diane's life I want to share how Diane's genealogy work brought us together - reconnecting two once very close branches of the family.

After the death of my mother, Mary Lee Mott Maxine (1924-2004), I felt very alone and isolated. My mom had been an only child and her mother had been an only child. The once huge extended Campbell family had been scattered and spread thin by time, geography, and marriage. I felt I had lost so much when my mom died; I desperately wanted to preserve her family stories, our family history - even if I had no one to share it with. I went out and bought Family Tree Maker. I began entering all the basic family data, and every couple days I'd upload it to the "World Family Tree" part of their website. Almost immediately I got an alert that an "exact match" had been found on another tree uploaded by a certain Diane Finley Parrotta. I had no idea who she was - neither Finley nor Parrotta were family names as far as I knew. I sent Diane an e-mail. She immediately wrote back, and over the next couple days we talked on the phone several times. Diane shared my e-mail with her mom, aunt, and sister. It became clear that two once closely intertwined branches of the family had been reunited. Here's our family connection in a nutshell:

Andrew Campbell and Mary Gemell
Diane and I share the same great-great-grandparents, Andrew Campbell and Mary Gemell (seen at left). She is descended from their daughter Jeannette (Diane's middle name) and I am descended from their daughter Mary.

Jeannette Campbell married Charles Cary Caldwell and they had one child, a son Charles. Sadly both parents died in 1924, leaving eleven-year-old Charles an orphan. He went to live with his aunt and uncle,  Mary Campbell and Louis Dillard Kirkpatrick (my great-grandparents), in Bridgeport, Texas..

Charles became, in effect, my grandmother's little brother and my mother's big brother. Charles was sixteen years younger than my grandmother and eleven years older than my mom. After my own grandparents divorced in 1928 my grandmother and mom spent much time living with Mary and Louis Kirkpatrick and their adopted son Charles. My grandmother was a Dallas/Fort Worth area music teacher, so essentially all holidays and all summer she and Mom lived in Bridgeport.

In the early 1940s Charles married Lois Parish. Sadly, Charles inherited his father's weak heart and he died in 1945 at the age of thirty-two, leaving behind his two young children, Gayle and Carol. Gayle is Diane's mom. The families stayed fairly close for the next decade or so.

Louis & Mary Kirkpatrick with young Gayle Caldwell and her infant sister Carol.
Below is a photo of Diane's mom Gayle playing the violin (center top) and Diane's Aunt Carol (bottom left) sitting beside my grandmother Edna Claire Kirkpatrick Mott (center) at the piano.

Edna Kirkpatrick Mott with Gayle and Carol Caldwell circa mid-1950s.

Diane's mom Gayle even participated in my parents' wedding party in 1958. But then our two families began to drift apart. People got married, they moved, relocated for graduate school, had kids, divorced, married again - names changed, addresses got lost.

That is, until 2004 when Diane and I found each other. We continued to share e-mails and phone calls. My reconnection spread to Dianes's sister, Karen, and especially to Diane's mom, Gayle. In 2009 we all finally met face-to-face. Around Christmas my partner and I spent several days in Fort Worth. We stayed with Gayle and had several good visits with Diane and Karen and their aunt Carol. The years melted away and the sadness and loneliness after my mom's death melted as well. The past didn't feel so lost anymore.

There was a future, too, as we all got to know each other through e-mails and especially Facebook. I deeply regret that the families lost touch for so long. Reconnecting would not have been possible without Diane's interest in the family, in genealogy, and in reaching out to connect with others.

I am so grateful to her for giving me my family back. Luckily she was surrounded by her large loving family at the end. I wish we had had more time to know each other. But she touched many people and many things, and the ripples of her life will radiate outward for a very long time.

Good-bye, Diane. Thank you.

A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, October 30, at The Unity Church located at 5051 Trail Lake Drive, Fort Worth, Texas 76133. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Diane's memory to the Humane Society of North Texas at 1840 East Lancaster, Fort Worth, Texas 76103. Arrangements have been made by the Major Funeral Home & Chapel, Fort Worth, Texas, telephone 817-568-0440.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Keeping It All in the Family

Leonard E. Grant, Jr.
After last week’s post about the Grant family photograph I was still curious about several aspects of the Grants and their spouses and children. My main curiosity was about Leonard Grant’s divorce from his wife Emma. I also wondered about Minnie Grant’s first husband, Eldredge Hubbard, and their kids Florence and Clarence. So I poked around a little. What I dug up can’t be called strictly incestuous. But it treads a little too closely to incest for comfort.

Leonard E. Grant, Jr. (1857-1923), married Emma E. Pomeroy (abt 1858-?) in 1891. By 1903 they were divorced. On May 15 of that year, in Chardon, Ohio, Emma E. Pomeroy Grant married a second time to a man named William H. Chase (1850-1914).

This remarriage seems innocent enough on the surface. But what’s a little off-putting is that William Chase happened to be Emma’s former brother-in-law. It's unclear whether William’s first wife, Sarah M. Grant (1853-?), had divorced him or died, but she was the sister of Leonard Grant, Jr., Emma's first husband. I’d prefer to believe that William was a widower when he married his former sister-in-law, Emma.

Eldridge Hubbard living with John Grant in 1900 US Census
While satisfying my curiosity about Leonard and Emma, I uncovered another unconventional arrangement within the larger Grant family. Grace Armenia “Minnie” Alderman (1870-1922) divorced her first husband, Eldredge Hubbard (abt 1852-aft 1930), before 1896. Four years later, in 1900, Eldredge was living on the same property as his ex-wife and her second husband, John Elwood Grant (1870-1915). Eldredge was their hired man. I hope he was living in an out-building or something and not in the same house with Minnie and John.

John Elwood Grant
What could the reason for this unusual arrangement have been? Was Eldredge just too poor to find his own place? The two children of Eldredge and Minnie were also living there. Did Eldredge just want to be near his children? What was John Grant thinking to allow his wife’s first husband to live with them? Maybe they were just very open-minded for the time. Why would Eldredge work under the husband who’d supplanted him? Had this arrangement lasted for the four years that John and Minnie had been married by 1900? And how much longer did it last after 1900?

By 1920 Eldredge Hubbard was living with his daughter Florence and her husband Charles Carnegie. But in the 1930 US Federal Census Eldredge is listed as "inmate" along with a lot of single, somewhat elderly men. My first thought on seeing this was that he’d committed some crime and was in jail. But I suspect that he was actually living in a nursing home or a similar facility—maybe for the mentally ill or the mentally handicapped? He was about seventy-eight years old by 1930, so I don’t expect he lasted much longer.

Florence M. Hubbard Waste Carnegie
But the family antics kept on. Eldredge Hubbard and Minnie Hubbard Grant’s daughter was Florence M. Hubbard (1888-1972). On June 17, 1905, in Hambden, Ohio, just before her eighteenth birthday, Florence married Frank B. Waste (1880-1955). Could Frank Waste be the mystery man sitting next to Florence in the Grant family photo of the previous year? The man resembles the Grants, so I’ve assumed he was a blood relation and dismissed Frank Waste as a possible identity. But considering the tangled web of relationships in the Grant-Hubbard sphere of influence, Frank Waste could well have been related.

The Mystery Man
Florence and Frank Waste had two children. First came a girl, Jesse A. Waste, on October 10, 1906. I don’t know what marital problems Florence and Frank had, but on February 4, 1907, they divorced. A little over a month later, on March 18, 1907, baby Jesse died. Had a sick baby been an unbearable pressure on the marriage? Or was daughter Jesse’s death sudden? I have no answer.

Florence and Frank’s second child, Harold James Waste, was born December 30, 1907, almost eleven months after the date of Florence and Frank’s divorce. Did Florence and Frank live together for a while after the divorce was granted? They obviously had sex after they were no longer legally married. What the heck was going on?

On January 10, 1913, Florence married again, this time to a man sixteen years her senior, Charles B. Carnegie (abt 1872-?). They had three sons: John Carnegie (abt 1914-?), Oren Lewis Carnegie (1922-2006), and Clarence Newton Pete Carnegie (1925-2006). Florence appears as head of household in both the US Federal Censuses of 1930 and 1940 with the three Carnegie boys, but where is Florence’s husband Charles? There’s no sign of him in those censuses. Florence is listed as married, not widowed or divorced, but Charles's whereabouts remain a mystery.

Charles Elwood Grant
Meanwhile, Harold Waste, Florence’s son by Frank Waste, grew up in the Carnegie household. On February 2, 1946, Harold Waste married Helene Thelma Stafford (1902-1985) and became her second husband. Helene’s first husband had been Charles Elwood Grant (1900-1945), a son of John and Minnie Grant and a half-brother of Florence Hubbard Waste Carnegie. So as her second husband Helene Stafford Grant married her first husband’s half-nephew.

The family follies didn’t stop there. Minnie and Eldredge Hubbard’s son, Clarence N. Hubbard, married twice. On May 25, 1912, Clarence married Nellie B. Frisbie (1891-1975), but their marriage didn’t last. By 1951 Clarence was married to his second wife, Alice Rosa Holmes (1908-2003), daughter of Thomas James Holmes, prominent bibliographer of the works of Increase Mather and son Cotton Mather.

Clarence N. Hubbard
When Clarence Hubbard died in May of 1973, his widow Alice Holmes Hubbard lost little time in looking around at the family to find her next husband. Oren Lewis Carnegie, son of Florence Hubbard Waste Carenegie, was the nephew of Alice’s first husband and fourteen years her junior. Oren had been married since about 1947 to Hattie M. (maiden name unknown). But he seems to have been in a hurry to marry his uncle’s widow. Oren divorced Hattie on Dec. 11, 1973, and sixteen days later, on December 29, Oren married his Aunt Alice, continuing the family tradition of marriages of questionable propriety.

Those are all the unusual pairings I’ve found in that section of the family. I don’t suppose there’s room for many more of them. But that’s what I kept thinking after I’d found the first couple.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gathered Grants

A large gathering of my Grant relatives had a group photograph taken in the summer of 1904 in Geauga County, Ohio. I first saw this photo on the genealogy site of Rick and Becky Johnson, who are my distant cousins related by several marriages along various family branches. I was excited to see the faces of so many relations that I’d never seen before.

Later I found the same photo printed in the book Geauga County, Ohio: A Pictorial History by James J. Anderson and Jeannette Grosvenor, originally published in 1989. I have the 2006 printing by The Donning Company. The book gives information about the photo, but that information has several problems.

The book proposes that the photo was taken at the Chardon, Ohio, home of Leonard and Betsey Grant, the couple sitting on the right side of the middle row. But I think that the photo was more likely taken at the home—probably also in Chardon—of Leonard and Betsey’s son Charles and his wife Arletta, who are sitting at the left side of the middle row. That’s because most of the Grants in the photo are sons and grandchildren of Charles and Arletta. The only two children of Leonard and Betsey in the photo are Charles himself and Leonard, Jr. The rest of Leonard and Betsey’s children—including Mary Elizabeth Grant McNaughton, my great-great-grandmother—are absent.

The Grant Family, 1904.
The photo's caption in the book identifies the people like this:

Top row, left to right: John Grant with son Glen “Chicken” Grant and John’s wife Grace Armena “Minnie” Alderman Hubbard Grant; William L. Grant with daughter Mabeletta Grant and William’s wife Noma A. Trask Grant; Leonard Grant, Jr.; Carrie Beach Grant and daughter Myrtle Grant with Carrie’s husband Orie Grant.

Middle row, left to right: Arletta Fox Grant and husband Charles Grant; Leonard Grant, Sr., and wife Betsey Marshall Patterson Grant.

Front row, left to right: Edward Grant, Charles “Dick” Grant, Lloyd W. Grant, Roy Robert Grant, Florence Hubbard, and Clarence Hubbard.

But whoever wrote this caption didn't pay attention to the ages of the kids, who are all my cousins. Some of these identifications are decidedly odd—assuming the date of the photo is indeed the summer of 1904. I think it is 1904, and, as I indicated in a post of a couple weeks ago, based on the children's ages I believe that the names assigned to many of them are incorrect.

Let’s take a closer look at the people in this photo. I’m going to assign what I believe to be the correct name to each. I’ll also discuss a little history where I know it.

(If you want to see a larger version of the photo, just click on it and a larger version will open in your browser window. By the way, the same thing will happen to all other photos posted to Several Times Removed.)

Here are my name assignments:

Top Row, Left to Right:

John Grant (1870-1915), the eldest child of Arletta and Charles W. Grant, who are the lefthand couple in the middle row. John was thirty-four here.

Edward Louis Grant (1903-1988), the second child of John, who's holding Edward, and Minnie, who's standing just to the right of Edward. Geauga County, Ohio: A Pictorial History identifies this little boy as Glen Newton “Chicken” Grant (1914-1972). But if this photo was taken in 1904, this can’t be Chicken Grant, because he wouldn’t be born for another ten years. Edward Louis was just one year old in July 1904, about the time this photo was taken, and this child certainly looks that age.

Grace Armenia “Minnie” Alderman Hubbard Grant
(1870-1922) was the granddaughter of Jarvis Alderman (1803-1857) and Charlotte Grant Alderman (abt 1804-1903). An online posting here claims that Charlotte Alderman's Grant forebears are connected to the family of Minnie’s husband, John Grant. I haven’t found any verification that these two Grant branches are connected, although I’d certainly like to find some. Charlotte Grant Alderman was a direct descendant of Matthew Grant (1601-1645) and Priscilla Grey (1600-1644), immigrants from England in 1630 on the ship John and Mary. That makes Charlotte and her granddaughter Minnie (and Minnie's children) blood relations to US Civil War Union General and later US President Ulysses S. Grant. Minnie’s first husband was Eldredge Hubbard, and in this photo she was thirty-four.

William L. Grant (1873-1960), the second son of Arletta and Charles W. Grant. He was twenty-nine here.

Mabeletta Grant Mumford (1903-?), held by her father, William. Geauga County, Ohio: A Pictorial History correctly identifies this child who grew up to marry Otto Elmer Mumford (1907-?). Mabeletta was less than a year old in the photo.

Noma Amelia Trask Grant (1875-1950), wife of William L. Grant and mother of Mabeletta. Noma was twenty-eight.

Leonard E. Grant, Jr. (1857-1923), sixth child of Leonard and Betsey Grant, the couple seated on the righthand side of the middle row. Leonard, Jr., standing right behind his father, Leonard, Sr., is also the youngest brother of Charles W., seated just to the left in the middle row. Sometime between 1900 and 1920 Leonard, Jr., divorced his wife Emma E. (last name unknown). Emma isn’t in this photo. Maybe they’re already divorced and that’s why Leonard, Jr., is at this gathering at his brother Charles’s place. If Leonard had left his wife by 1904 and was living either with his parents—Leonard, Sr., and Betsey—or possibly living with his brother Charles and family, that could account for Leonard, Jr.’s presence. Or maybe Leonard and Emma were just having marital problems at this point and she refused to either be in the photo or attend the family gathering. They had no children that I’m aware of—maybe the reasons for that were a factor in their divorce. But that’s mere speculation. Leonard, Jr., was forty-six.

Carrie Beach Grant
(1882-1960), wife of Orris Grant. Carrie was twenty-two.

Myrtle Grant (1903-?), daughter of Carrie and Orris Grant. Myrtle was a little over a year old here.

Orris H. “Orie” Grant (1879-1953), fourth and youngest child of Arletta and Charles W. Grant, the lefthand couple in the middle row. Orie was twenty-four or twenty-five.

Middle Row, Left to Right:

Arletta S. Fox Grant (1851-1919), wife of Charles W. Grant, and mother of John E., William L., and Orris H., who are all standing in the back row. Arletta and Charles also had a daughter, Millie S. Grant (1876-?), who isn’t in the photo—maybe she died before 1904. At the time of this photo Arletta was fifty-two.

Charles William Grant (1846-1937), Arletta's husband and eldest child of Leonard and Betsey Grant, who are seated to the right of Charles in the middle row. Charles was fifty-eight when the photo was taken.

Leonard E. Grant, Sr. (1823-1911), was my great-great-great-grandfather and the husband of Betsey who's to the right of him in the photo. Leonard's father was born in Connecticut according to the 1900 US Federal Census, although I also have a reference that says his father was born in New York. I prefer Connecticut. His father may have been named Leonard, too, but that’s questionable. I’ve looked for Leonard Grant, Sr.’s ancestors, but with no luck. There are a slew of Grants in eighteenth century and nineteenth century Connecticut. Which of them might be the right Grants I’ve found impossible to determine. Early Ohio Grants don't tie definitively to Leonard either. As Geauga County, Ohio: A Pictorial History says (and I'll have to trust the book on this), Grant Street, which runs between North Hambden and South Hambden, Geauga County, Ohio, was named after Leonard Grant. The street is also the dividing line between Chardon Village and Hambden Township. Leonard was eighty in this photo.

Betsey Elizabeth Marshall Patterson Grant (1818-1912) was my great-great-great-grandmother and Leonard Grant, Sr.’s wife. Leonard and Betsey were the parents of Charles W., also sitting in the middle row, and Leonard, Jr., standing just behind Leonard, Sr. They had other children who aren’t in the photo: Abby Rosette Grant Conley (1849-1931), John Grant (1851-1853) who died as a child, Sarah M. Grant (1853-?), Mary Elizabeth Grant McNaughton (1856-1946) who was my great-great-grandmother, and Emerette Anna Grant Zorn (1861-1926). The absence of these other children is what leads me to strongly suspect this photo was taken at Charles and Arletta's place. Betsey Grant was married previously to Alonzo Patterson and had four children with him: Edna Maria Patterson, Persis Ellen Patterson (1840-?), George B. Patterson (1842-1916), and James O. Patterson (1846-?). Betsey’s parents were William Obadiah Marshall (1784-1854) and Polly Rider (1793-1870), a daughter of “Deacon” Benjamin Rider (1761-1854), whose gravestone I posted a picture of a couple weeks ago and whose branch of the family goes back to Samuel Rider (1601-1679) and Anne Gamlett (1605-1695) who immigrated by 1638 to Plymouth, Massachusetts, from Northampton, England. At eighty-five years old, Betsey was the oldest person in this photo.

Bottom Row, Left to Right:

Charles Elwood Grant (1900-1945), eldest son of John and Minnie Grant. Geauga County, Ohio: A Pictorial History says this is Edward Grant, Charles Elwood Grant’s younger brother and second son of John and Minnie. But Edward was born in 1903, the year before this photo is supposed to have been taken, and I think that's Edward in his father's arms in the top row. The child pictured sitting here is certainly more than a year old. Charles Elwood would have been four years old in the summer of 1904, and this child looks about four years old, so I think it’s reasonable to conclude this is Charles Elwood Grant. Charles would grow up to marry Helene Thelma Stafford (1902-1985), descendant of Richard Warren of the ship Mayflower, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago.

Clarence Hubbard (1891-1973), son of Minnie Grant and her first husband Eldredge Hubbard. Geauga County, Ohio: A Pictorial History claims that this child is Charles “Dick” Grant, who I believe is the child sitting to the left of this one. This child is obviously much older than four-year-old Charles. Clarence Hubbard was thirteen years old in 1904, and this child could easily be thirteen. Also, look at his face—it's a bit rounder than all those long Grant faces. Compare his features to the girl sitting on the ground to the right. I know her features are a bit hard to distinguish, but what's visible closely matches this boy’s features. I conclude they’re brother and sister, Clarence and Florence Hubbard, Minnie’s children from her first marriage.

Lloyd William Grant (1895-1978), also known as William Lloyd Grant, eldest son of William L. and Noma Grant, who are standing in the center top of this photo holding their youngest child Mabeletta. Geauga County, Ohio: A Pictorial History got this one right in my estimation. Lloyd would marry Louise Marie Sturm (1895-1939), a marriage that connects me to Rick and Becky Johnson of the website mentioned in this post's first paragraph, the site where I first saw this photo. And through Lloyd's marriage, a further chain of marriages connects to Mayflower passenger Edward Doty. Lloyd was eight years old in summer 1904.

Roy Robert Grant (1897-1988), the middle child of William L. and Noma Grant. Geauga County, Ohio: A Pictorial History has this right, too. Roy would eventually marry Hilda Lucille Stafford (1898-1973), sister of the Helene Stafford who married Roy's cousin Charles Elwood, who's on the bottom far left, providing yet another family connection by marriage to Mayflower passenger Richard Warren. Roy was seven years old in this photo.

Florence Hubbard (1888-1972), daughter of Minnie Grant by her first husband, Eldredge Hubbard. Florence was sixteen years old here.

Now comes The Mystery. Geauga County, Ohio: A Pictorial History says this is Clarence Hubbard, brother of Florence, but I find that extremely difficult to believe. This young man looks much older than thirteen-year-old Clarence—he looks like he could be anywhere from sixteen to twenty-five. Compare his features to Florence beside him and to the second child from the left, the one I believe to actually be Clarence. This young man’s features are quite different from both. If you didn’t think the boy second from the left resembled Florence before, I’d be surprised if you don’t think so now in comparison to the mystery man. This young man is also sitting off to the side, out of the perimeter all the others have posed within, as though he doesn't quite belong. Could he be someone not related to the family? His long nose and narrow face resemble those of many of the Grant men in this photo—John in the upper left; both Charles and Leonard sitting in the center; Leonard, Jr., just behind Leonard, Sr. So I think he’s related by blood and belongs to this family, even though he’s off to one side. But there are no Grant children that were between sixteen and twenty-five years old in 1904, at least not that I know of. He could be an unrecorded Grant child. But notice that his features also resemble Betsey Grant’s. As I mentioned before, Betsey had four children with her first husband, Alonzo Patterson. One of these children, George Baker Patterson (1842-1916), and his wife Lois Francelia Watts Patterson (?-1916) had eight children. Their fifth child, Fred Patterson was born in 1881 and would have been twenty-two or twenty-three in the summer of 1904 when this picture was taken. Could this young man be Fred Patterson, Betsey’s grandson through her first marriage? I can't find a male Grant relative who fits better. So Fred Patterson (or another Patterson grandson—I don’t know of another close to the target age, but my Patterson research has holes, so there could be one) is my best guess for this guy’s identity.

Those are my revised identifications of the people in this photo. Of course, there’s always the chance the photo could have been taken at a time other than 1904. But except for the mystery man, I believe my revised list matches the faces and ages so closely that a date of 1904 is virtually confirmed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Campbells are Coming!

We've spent a couple posts on my Kirkpatrick ancestors, so today I'm going to introduce some of my Campbell relatives. So far I have had little luck tracing the line back beyond my great-great-grandparents, Andrew Campbell (1845-1919) and his wife Mary Gemell (1847-1930).

Andrew Campbell (1845-1919) and Mary Gemell (1847-1930), circa 1870

Until I scanned this photo - the only photo I have of Andrew and Mary Campbell together - I had not noticed that something seems to have happened to Andrew's left ear. According to his grandson, Jack Denton, Andrew was a Mining Engineer, though several censuses list his occupation as Coal Miner.

My family was rich with Campbell stories. Andrew and Mary were married October 16, 1866. At this time they lived in Oakley, Scotland.  They immigrated to the US around 1869. I've yet to track down their boat, but family stories always told that they traveled in "steerage." They had thirteen children, two born in Scotland - Jean and a first son John, and eleven born in the United States.

Mary Gemell Campbell - Obit
Family stories said they first settled near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. But now I have an alternate scenario where they spent a year before that in Montana. I hope I can find a way to verify that.

I know that at some point during the early 1870s Andrew made a return trip from the US to Scotland (reason unknown). Mary and the children stayed in the US. Perhaps this voyage home was what prompted the move from Montana to Pennsylvania where I know they had settled by 1874.

They had at least three more children in Pennsylvania: my great-grandmother Mary Campbell (Kirkpatrick), a daughter Ellen - the second of this name, and a son Andrew. The second John and the first Ellen, who both died in infancy, were probably also born in Pennsylvania.

In 1886 they moved to Gordon, Texas. In that same year the eldest daughter, Jean, married Samuel Hardy. The Campbells then moved to Oklahoma for eight years where five more children were born: Robina, Margaret, Katherine, Jeannette, and Thomas. Soon after Thomas's birth they moved to Bridgeport, Texas. In all these places Andrew Campbell was involved in coal mining. I am unsure exactly what he did as a mining engineer. He was almost certainly not working the mines. The family was very comfortable, taking good care of their ten children, all of whom married very well - except possibly for Thomas, whose marital status remains unknown. And the fact that Andrew could afford to travel home to visit Scotland after the immigration indicates some money as well.

In the early 1890s they moved to Bridgeport, Texas, where son-in-law Samuel Hardy was prospecting for coal. Samuel must have done very well and the Campbells likely moved to  Bridgeport to join in the good fortune. In 1908 both the Hardys and Campbells moved to the newly founded city of Newcastle, Texas. Sam Hardy became manager of the Belknap Coal Company. And Andrew immediately built a two-story stone structure called "The Campbell Building." He also built a new family home in Newcastle, where Andrew and Mary remained until their deaths - his in 1919, hers in 1930.

As I mentioned above Andrew and Mary had thirteen children in all. A family story tells that after the kids were all grown one of them asked his mother why she stopped at thirteen. Mother Campbell replied in her thick brogue: "Your father woulda had more -  but I put my foot on it!" The Campbell clan thought this was just hysterical!

The Thirteen Campbell Children

Jean Campbell (1868-1961)
The first born child, Jean was the only child born in Scotland that lived to adulthood. She married Samuel Hardy and lived to be ninety-two.

John Campbell (1869 - ?
Their second child, John, was born July 30, 1869 in Carnock, Scotland. He died in infancy after his parents immigrated to the United States in 1870. Death date unknown. [Updated JAN 22, 2014]

John, and Ellen
After the first John died, they named another son John and he died as well. After the loss of two children named John, they did not try that name again. A daughter, Ellen was born shortly after the couple arrived in the US. She also died in infancy. They tried the name Ellen again for their eighth child (see below). But they always called her "Nel," to avoid the bad luck they had had with the two Johns.

James G. Campbell (1871-1938)
James's death certificate states he was born in Towanda, Montana. This is the only reference in family papers indicating that the Campbells spent time in Montana shortly after they arrived in the USA. Towanda does have mining interest, so since Andrew was in coal mining, it's certainly possible they spent their first year in Montana. James's older sister, Jean, was the informant on his death certificate, so I tend to take her Montana reference as accurate, despite no mention of the Montana adventure in the family lore. James married a woman named Katherine. He died when he was sixty-six.

Mary Elizabeth Campbell (1875-1966)
Mary was my great-grandmother, called Mamie. She married Louis Dillard Kirkpatrick and lived to be ninety-one.

Andrew Campbell (1876-1961)
Andrew married a woman named Nellie Maud Humphrey. He lived until he was eighty-four.

Ellen Campbell (1877-1962)
Ellen, always called "Nel," married Ausburn Black and lived to be eighty-five.

Robina Campbell (1880-1973)
Robina spent most of her adult life in Artesia, New Mexico. She married Herschel Denton and lived to be ninety-three.

Margaret Campbell (1884-1967)
Margaret married J. P. Newell. She eventually moved to Tennessee where she died at the age of eighty-three.

Katherine Campbell (1887-1979)
Kate married John Albert Nelson. She lived most of her life in Fort Worth, Texas. She lived to be ninety-two.

Jeannette Campbell (1888-1924)
Jeannette married C. C. Caldwell. She died of "Brights Disease," a kidney ailment, at the age of thirty-five.

Thomas Campbell (1891- ? )
Tom was the baby of the family. He was also a bit of a black sheep, and at some point the family lost contact with him. My mom remembered him from when she was a child, probably in the 1930s. The last information I can find on him is that in 1940 he turned over a share of property to his eldest sister, Jean. I would love to know what happened to him and if he had a family.

My mom knew and remembered Grandma Campbell, Mary Gemell. She said she was her favorite of her great-grandparents. One of the stories my mom often related was that Grandma Campbell would sit on the porch of her home in Newcastle, Texas, rocking in her rocking chair, staring out at the parched flat land of west Texas. She'd rock and sigh softly, "the sea . . . the sea . . . ," remembering the ocean of her youth.

Mary Gemell Campbell with five of her daughters. L to R: Jeannette, Ellen, Katherine, Mary, & Margaret, circa 1920.

I have a small stash of photos of a Campbell family get-together that occurred in the early 1920s. One appears above, showing Grandma Campbell with five of her daughters. Jeanette Campbell Caldwell died at the age of thirty-five in 1924, so this photo must be before that date. My great-grandmother, Mary, is in the dark dress. As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, I remember my great-grandmother - but I remember Aunt Kate (standing center back) really well. She lived until 1979.

While I have not been able to trace the Campbell line in Scotland, I recently got a copy of Mary Gemmel's death certificate and found her father's name listed as James Gemell. Her mother's maiden name was listed as "Hill," but with a cryptic additional note "Maiden name unknown."

I have a few mementoes from my Campbell great-great-grandparents, but I'll talk about them in future blog posts.Clearly, researching people named Andrew Campbell from Scotland is a rather daunting task. Perhaps one of my clansmen will read this blog and say hello!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Mother the Genealogist

Up until several years ago I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about my family genealogy. Family stories were often interesting and of course I liked to know my specific relationship to relatives that I’d actually met. But I was happy to leave researching, compiling, and recording to others.

My mother, Karen Elizabeth Hietanen Shanower, was one of those others. In the early 1970s she began seriously researching both her own family tree and my father’s. We lived near Washington, DC, so things like US Census records were close.  Some days when my dad was at work and my sister and I were in school, my mother would travel into the city to do genealogical research.

Back then I had little concept of how research libraries worked. But I’ve since had experience looking up entries in catalogs, submitting call numbers, and waiting for books and other written records to be delivered to the call desk, then either consulting the index or going through the laborious task of visually scanning pages. These time-consuming methods of research are a lot of work. (But I find the process kind of fun when I’m interested in the subject I’m researching. I never know when the next surprising and valuable nugget will turn up.) Today, gathering much of the same material my mother found back then simply takes an internet search, winnowing through results, then a few computer commands to copy and paste it into a word processing document and backing that up. But personal computers and the internet weren’t available to my mother in the 1970s.

For a while all things genealogical seemed to interest her. One time she went to hear an author speak about his forthcoming book that incorporated family research. Afterward she told my sister and me how this author had incorporated family stories passed down through generations into a book, which my mom had put on request from the public library. It seemed like a year or two passed before the book was finally published. But when it was, Alex Haley’s Roots was a sensational best-seller and adapted into the first tv mini-series. To me Roots seemed a little old-hat, since it felt like I’d known about it forever.

I remember my mom trying to explain to my sister and me the ranking of cousins. On the big chalkboard on the family room wall my mom would write the names of relatives into a grid. She’d patiently explain how and why so-and-so was a certain number cousin, so many times removed. At eight years old I didn’t get it. Eventually, however, I was able to understand the concept. Now it’s hard for me to understand how I couldn’t grasp it at one point.

My mother, sister, and I would play a game. One person would think of a relative, then recite the chain of relationship leading to that relative. The challenge was for the others to guess the relative the speaker was thinking of. For instance, my mother might say, “Your father’s brother’s mother’s father’s wife.” My sister and I would each try to be the first to call out, “Grandma Dell!”

One Christmas—must have been about 1972—we were visiting relatives in Ohio, where both my parents were born and grew up. My mother interviewed her maternal grandfather, Mattias Vihtori Stuuri (1888-1981), about immigrating to the USA from Finland when he was a child. This was one of the few times I was present when my mother was actually doing genealogical work. Usually I might only hear about results, which were fine, but not of great interest to me then. But hearing Paappa* Stuuri relate facts about his family’s trip from Europe to North America stuck with me—mostly, I think, because I rarely saw Paappa Stuuri interact with others.

Mattias Vihtori Stuuri (1888-1981), my great grandfather, is seated at left in this photo from the early 1940s. My mother, Karen Elizabeth Hietanen Shanower, is the child standing center. My great aunt Adela Mirjam Stuuri Bixler (1918-2003), also mentioned in this post,  is standing on the right.
I rarely interacted with Paappa Stuuri myself. He didn’t talk much and my impression is that he was hard of hearing. When I knew him he usually sat in his accustomed chair on the enclosed porch of the house at 503 Independence Street in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, the house where several generations of the Stuuri family had lived for decades. He’d just sit there silently. Whenever my family arrived on a visit, his eyes would light up for a moment, he’d smile, and he’d let out an "ohhh," perhaps chuckle, and say a few words of greeting in his high, rough voice. Then we’d go on into the house to see the rest of the relatives.

In 1976 my sister and I stayed a week in that house with my great aunt and uncle, Adela Mirjam Stuuri Bixler and Alvin Ahlstrom Bixler. Their youngest child, my cousin Jim Bixler, was still living there, too. One day I was searching for a library book I was reading, one of Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll titles. I passed by the door to the porch and spotted my book—open in Paappa Stuuri’s hands. He was more than just casually glancing through the book, he was reading it! I was a little annoyed that someone had usurped the book I was reading, but I was also struck by the fact that this old man originally from Finland was reading a children’s book by a Finnish author.

Through the years my mom’s interest in genealogical research has waxed and waned. In the summer of 1978, my mother, sister, and I stopped in Pennsylvania where my mom did some research into the Lancaster County Shanowers. But after that I don’t remember her doing much with genealogy. Maybe I was simply unaware of it after I moved out of my parents’ home. In the 1990s other members of the family began to contact my mom for assistance with their own research, but I don’t think she ever plunged back into it to the depth she’d gone in the 1970s.

Her research has proven valuable to later family researchers. For instance, she had determined the place in Finland where her father’s family branch originated. In pre-internet days my mom hadn’t had the time or resources to follow where that information pointed. But in the 1990s when a US cousin researching the Hietanen branch of the family contacted my mom, she was able to guide him in the right direction. He forged ahead, made contact with Finland, and uncovered a wealth of information on our ancestors there. He credits my mom with providing the foundation for his success.

After I became fascinated with family genealogy a few years ago, my mother, I think, was a little relieved. Finally she had someone to turn all her research over to. She wouldn’t have to store all those papers and books anymore. I got them all. Well, a lot of it, at least. She held on to most of her old family photographs.

But I was grateful for everything that she gave me. I began entering all the information into the online family tree. It was fascinating to study some of the process she’d gone through to gather information. She’d kept neat graphs detailing which relatives she’d contacted, when they’d replied, and when she’d followed up. Different types of pencil and pen are used on the same pages, making it clear that at certain points she was filling in information later. Some of her questions have still not been answered. Her research into the McNaughton branch is exhausting to look at. She copied down McNaughton names and dates from record after record, even including variants such as McNorton. She had no way to be sure whether these were related or not.

About two weeks ago, when I wrote a blog post here about my McNaughton forebears, I didn’t have much more information about them than my mother had gathered back in the 1970s. At the end of that post I noted that some details of info I’d gathered myself seemed questionable. Writing that post spurred me to look again at the McNaughtons. I found more information. Turns out I was right to be suspicious—some of my information was wrong. But I’ve now revised it and have discovered a slew of relatives I hadn’t known about before as well as a consistent scenario for their movement from Scotland to Ohio. I’ll save that for another blog post.

Among the research my mom gave me I found the notes from her interview with Paappa Stuuri. I’d only had vague memories of the answers he’d given her back then. But now, decades later, here they were written down in front of me. I’ve recorded them on the online family tree so that the rest of the family can see them if they’re interested, so that any other interested researchers can access them, and so that they’ll be preserved for future generations. And, yes, I perform regular back-ups of the family tree to a couple external drives.

My mom is still interested in her family history. A few years ago she was excited to learn from one of her uncles that he’d found an archive of family letters from the 1940s. The letters contain some family history as well as being of immense sentimental value. I haven’t seen the letters, but I dearly want to make copies and computer scans to preserve them. One of these days.

* Paappa – Finnish word for grandfather, pronounced “boppa.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mamie and the Chicken

Mary E. Campbell Kirkpatrick circa late 1950s
I have some memories of my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Campbell Kirkpatrick (1875-1966). She died when I was three, shortly before my family moved to Albuquerque. 

The photo at left was taken before I was born, but it is much the way I remember her. Everyone in the immediate family called her Mamie. She conducted the church choir most of her adult life, and my mom said that Mamie had a voice that could have made her an opera star. 

You will certainly learn more about her in future blogs, but today I will share one of the funnier Mamie stories.

Mary E. Campbell Kirkpatrick - early 1910s

Back in the earliest days of the 20th century, when my grandmother, Edna Claire Kirkpatrick (1897-1973), was a little girl, she witnessed the events that led to this blog post, the events that led to this favorite family story of the infamous day when my great-grandmother tried to choke her chicken.

I had best explain. Mamie and her husband, Louis Dillard Kirkpatrick (1873-1951), lived with their daughter in Bridgeport, Texas. They owned a large house on fourteen acres of land. They had pecans, various fruit trees, and they kept chickens. If the dinner-time meal was to be chicken, Mamie would ask Louis to please go get her a chicken, and he'd go out to the yard and select a tasty looking bird. He would hold it by the head and, with a quick spin of his wrist, the chicken's head would come off, and he'd take the chicken to my great grandmother for cleaning and cooking.

Louis Dillard Kirkpatrick and the chickens in Bridgeport, Texas.

But one day she forgot to ask Louis to get her a chicken. She had witnessed the deed on many, many occasions. And she thus thought, "Oh foot! I can kill a chicken! I've seen Louis do it a hundred times!" So she went out into the yard, snuck up on the feathered dinner-on-legs, and grabbed it by the head. It squawked and flapped its wings, and she took a deep breath and started to spin the chicken around. And she continued to spin the chicken.

The chicken was not amused. It still squawked and flapped its wings. But Mamie kept on spinning the chicken. Whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop, around the chicken went! All the other chickens looked on in wonder! Whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop, around the chicken went!

Eventually, my great-grandmother let the chicken go. With a sigh, she went into the house to find something else to make for dinner.

According to family legend, that chicken eventually died of old age - with its head permanently wrenched, turned backwards looking over its shoulder. When my great-grandmother would see the chicken out in the yard she would look at it with remorse and sigh . . . "Oh, Louis, oh . . . oh . . ."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cousins in Common, featuring Nathaniel Bartlett

One of the reasons I became interested in tracing my family tree was to see if David and I were somehow related by blood. I mean, the chance that sometime, somewhere, our lines intersected isn’t all that remote, is it?

Well, after a couple years of wide-ranging research on both our parts, I haven’t come up with a clear common ancestor for both of us.

I found connections between David’s line and mine by marriage, usually several marriages. For instance, we are each connected by chains of marriage both to Yankee General (and later US president) Ulysses S. Grant and to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Although I have not yet come across a common ancestor for both David and me, I did find a branch of relatives common to us both. A member of each of our families married each other and had a child who had descendants. David’s cousin Ebenezer Bartlett, Jr. (1694-1781), and my cousin Mary Rider Bartlett (1694-after 1723) married in 1718 in Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts, where their son, Nathaniel Bartlett (1722-1802), was born. David and I are both related to Nathaniel Bartlett and all of his descendants.

Nathaniel Bartlett's mother was my cousin Mary Rider Bartlett. Mary's paternal grandparents were Samuel Rider (about 1601-1679) and Anne Gamlett Rider (abt 1605-1695). Samuel and Anne Rider immigrated to North America from Northampton, England, between 1636 and 1638. They settled in Yarmouth in the Massachusetts colony. They are my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents. That’s nine greats.

Gravestone of "Deacon" Benjamin Rider (1761-1854), my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, in the line between Nathaniel Bartlett and me. Rider Cemetery, Chardon, Geauga County, Ohio.
And that makes Nathaniel Bartlett my second cousin, eight times removed.

Nathaniel Bartlett’s father was David's cousin Ebenezer Bartlett, Jr. (1694-1781).  Ebenezer’s twenty-two times great-grandfather was Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria (1050-1076). Waltheof is David Maxine’s twenty-five times great-grandfather.

On the left: Anderson Kirkpatrick (1808-1887), David's great-great-great-grandfather, in the line between Nathaniel Bartlett and him.
Twenty-five greats is an estimate—there could be a few more greats in there. David’s Kirkpatrick line of ancestry, which connects him to Waltheof, has a blank period, so the exact number of generations between Alexander Kirkpatrick (1685-1758) and his purported ancestor Roger Kirkpatrick (abt 1410-?), husband of Margaret Somerville, is currently unknown.

Despite the Kirkpatrick lacuna, that makes Nathaniel Bartlett David’s estimated twenty-third cousin, three times removed.

David has at least two other potential blood connections to Nathaniel Bartlett.

His second potential common ancestor with Nathaniel Bartlett is Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and father of King Henry II of England. Geoffrey is possibly David’s twenty-six times great-grandfather and Nathaniel’s nineteen times great-grandfather. But the line of ascent from David to Geoffrey Plantagenet has at least one doubtful connection, the parentage of Mary Grisselle Gibbone. I don’t necessarily dismiss this connection, but I find it questionable.

Geoffrey Plantagenet has been claimed as David’s twenty-six times great-grandfather through another line, too. This claim relies on the parents of Mary Stanley being George de Stanley and Joan le Strange. That parentage seems to have been fabricated by John S. Wurts, a twentieth century genealogist whose work is not up to current genealogical standards. So I’m afraid I don’t accept this family connection between David and Nathaniel Bartlett.

Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria, or rather, a fifteenth century statue identified as Waltheof, from the west front of Croyland Abbey in Crowland, Lincolnshire, UK.
But David’s descent from Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria, seems solid. Many of Waltheof’s descendants in both David’s and Nathaniel Bartlett’s lines have connections with the royal families of England and Scotland. And many are also connected with Northampton, England, the place, as I noted above, where my common ancestors with Nathaniel Bartlett, Samuel and Anne Rider, lived before emigrating.

How about some more connections among Nathaniel, David, and me?

Nathaniel Bartlett’s great-great-great-grandfather was Richard Warren (abt 1580-1628), who arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620 aboard the Mayflower with the Pilgrims. He was one of the ten people in the landing party with Myles Standish. Richard Warren wasn’t himself a Pilgrim, but a merchant from London. His wife Elizabeth Walker Warren (abt 1583-1673) and their daughters followed Richard from England to the Massachusetts colony later on the ship Anne. Richard Warren’s previous ancestry is unknown, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of people from fabricating pedigrees for him, some back to the English royal family and beyond. If there’s a grain of truth to Richard Warren being related to English royalty, then that’s another family connection to David’s line.

I have two other family connections to Richard Warren myself, not by blood but by marriage. First, Richard Warren’s granddaughter Sarah Bartlett (abt 1636-before 1680) married Samuel Rider (abt 1632-1715), a son of Samuel and Anne Rider, my common ancestors with Nathaniel Bartlett. And second, Richard Warren’s nine times great-granddaughter, Helene Thelma Stafford Grant Waste (1902-1985) married Charles Elwood Grant (1900-1945), her first husband, who was my second cousin, twice removed.

This is, I suspect, Charles Elwood Grant, four years old in this detail from a 1904 Grant family photograph. The identifications of children in the larger photo are confused.
Nathaniel Bartlett’s direct descendants have been traced down to today. I’d like to show you a couple of them. Nathaniel’s great-great-granddaughter was Elizabeth Ricker Robinson (1859-1942), whose photograph you can see here.

Elizabeth Ricker Robinson (1859-1942), great-great-granddaughter of Nathaniel Bartlett. Used with permission of John Hurlin Robinson.
Elizabeth and her husband, Walter Franklin Robinson (1855-1940), had a daughter named Helen Franklin Robinson (1885-1967), whose wedding photograph is posted below. Helen and her husband Don Hurlin Robinson (1889-1950) had one son who is still alive and who is the father of several children, including John Hurlin Robinson (b. 1951), and grandfather to several grandchildren.

Wedding picture of Helen Franklin Robinson (1885-1967), great-great-great-granddaughter of Nathaniel Bartlett. Used with permission of John Hurlin Robinson.
John Hurlin Robinson is my ninth cousin, once removed. He's David's estimated twenty-sixth cousin, four times removed. John has his own genealogical website, which you can see by clicking here. I thank John for allowing me to post photographs of his grandmother and great-grandmother. If you want to see photos of some of David’s and my living Robinson relatives, visit John’s site. Their ancestral line joins both David’s and mine at Nathaniel Bartlett, making all of us relatives.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Blow, Winds, Blow

One of my cousins is writing a history of the Civil War career of one of my ancestors: Captain John Dillard Kirkpatrick (1838-1895). John was the brother of my great-great-grandfather William Henry Kirkpatrick. This cousin and I have been exchanging genealogical information for a number of years now, including the various Civil War letters each of our families inherited. There is one thing I have not been able to share, as it can't be photocopied, scanned, and e-mailed.

It is a large pink conch shell that has probably been in the family for a good two hundred years. When I was little I remember the shell being in my grandmother's room. I would come in and look at it, and she would tell me the story. The shell had belonged to Grampa Kirkpatrick and it had hung near the front door of their big house. When the day's work was over, Grampa Kirkpatrick would go out on the porch, take the shell from its hook, and he'd blow into the shell - which was sort of like a horn - and he'd call the slaves in from the field.

This was all very abstract to me when I was a child. There seemed a distinct separation between the past, slavery, the Civil War, etc., and the very liberal and progressive family I grew up in. My mom had been deeply involved in the civil rights movement from the mid-1940s.

But as I got deeper into genealogy, the issue of slavery became much more problematic. If one starts looking at U.S. Slave Schedules and going through Trust/Deed books and seeing one's relatives buying and selling human beings, reading Last Will and Testaments where relatives are leaving certain human beings to others, well, it becomes very real. I'll be talking a good deal more about slavery issues in future posts.

But in my research one thing puzzled me. I could find no clear evidence for which particular "Grampa Kirkpatrick" the shell belonged to. The family stories clearly implied it was Anderson Kirkpatrick (1808-1887), my great-great-great-grandfather. But I can find no evidence that Anderson owned slaves. Perhaps his father John Kirkpatrick (1770-1808) owned slaves - indeed, I think it likely. Surviving property records and the Slave Schedules show many of Anderson's ancestors owning slaves, and three of his brothers did as well. But the solid documentation of the Kirkpatrick brothers' slave holdings only made the absence of such records for Anderson more puzzling.

Anderson and his sons were well-off, well-educated, and very religious. It would not be out of the question that Anderson had not held slaves. I just wish I had positive proof one way or the other, as either scenario creates a better picture of the man and his children.

But there is the story of the conch shell. Either Anderson owned slaves or the shell was his father's or possibly the story got slightly off and the shell belonged to my other great-great-great-grandfather, James Madison Hunt (1810-1860). JMH was the father of Macarina Bridges Hunt who married Anderson's son, William Henry Kirkpatrick. My grandmother, who first told me the story of the shell, knew both of these people, William Henry and Macarina Bridges (her paternal grandparents), quite well. Macarina died when my grandmother was twenty-four. So my grandmother heard the story from two people who had reached adulthood before the Civil War. Macarina grew up in a slave-owning household. In the 1860 U. S. Slave Schedule her father, James Madison Hunt, is listed as owning seven slaves.

James Madison Hunt - Slave Schedule 1860.

He owned two men aged 26 and 21, three women aged 40, 16, and 14, a boy aged 10 who was dumb, and a little girl of 4. As I mentioned above, this gets very real very fast.

Macarina Bridges Hunt (Kirkpatrick)
So I don't think it unlikely that Macarina Bridges Hunt Kirkpatrick might have told the tale to my grandmother by simply saying this shell belonged to Grampa - meaning Macarina'a father and not Grampa Kirkpatrick. There's probably no way to know and in either case at least one of my great-great-great-grandfathers owned slaves. And I now possess the shell one of them used to announce the end of the work day.

Well, the original purpose of this blog post was to be able to share information about the conch shell - but I felt very wary of romanticizing the past and wanted to balance family nostalgia with a little cold history.

The conch shell is very old and worn. As you can see in the photo below, many layers of shell have been chipped off in the last two hundred years and the grip area has been rubbed smooth. You may also notice a small hole drilled in the upper lip. This is where the ring or wire went through, enabling the shell to be hung at the front of the house on its hook.

When I was little I would pick up the shell and blow into it and nothing happened. My grandmother would tell me it was very difficult to blow and get the right sound. But when I was in fifth grade I took French horn for a year and I quickly realized the same technique of basically blowing a "raspberry" into the French horn would work on the Kirkpatrick Family conch shell. It worked. My mom suggested I should learn to play bagpipes. I declined.

Below you will find a link to play a short MP3 sound file of me blowing the conch shell.
Depending on your audio player you may need to click the little PLAY arrow.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Kirkpatrick Family

Edna Claire Kirkpatrick Mott.
My mother's family was always into family history and no branch was more talked about than that of the Kirkpatricks.

My grandmother was Edna Claire Kirkpatrick, and her father was Louis Dillard Kirkpatrick (1873-1951). I knew my grandmother well - indeed, when I was a child she lived with us until her death in 1973. I did not know my great-grandfather Kirkpatrick except through family stories - which in many ways made him more real than many of my living relatives.

The Kirkpatrick line (of Sumner County and Wilson County in Tennessee) was far and away the best documented part of my family. I own the family bible of my great-great-great-grandfather, Anderson Kirkpatrick (1805-1887). It includes information back to his father, John Kirkpatrick (1770-1808). From that point on the family is well documented with various letters, slips of paper, and many photographs from the late 1800s on. One of the most interesting things is the small stash of Civil War letters. The family had been in Tennessee for several generations - thus the Kirkpatricks were with the Confederacy.

I'd had a mild interest in genealogy since I was a kid and had become the self-appointed family historian, but a much deeper interest in genealogy kicked in after my mom died in 2004. I think I was looking for a way to strengthen my connections to the past, as the present felt so fragile.

Anderson Kirkpatrick and Emmaliza Moss Kirkpatrick.
I quickly found several long-lost Kirkpatrick cousins, and with the internet I was able to push the Kirkpatrick family line back several generations beyond my great-great-great-grandparents, Anderson Kirkpatrick (1808-1887) and Emmaliza Moss Kirkpatrick (1812-1874), seen in the photo at right.

My oldest verifiable Kirkpatrick ancestor at this point is Alexander Kirkpatrick, born 1650 in Watties Neach, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. His son, also an Alexander Kirkpatrick (1685-1758), moved from Scotland to Belfast, Ireland, around 1725 and in 1736 he immigrated to America. He arrived in New Castle, Delaware, but he and his family settled in Mine Brook, New Jersey. This Alexander Kirkpatrick, the immigrant, is my seventh great-grandfather.

I will be sharing much more information on the Kirkpatrick family in future posts: the American Revolution, slavery, the American Civil War, how the family got land in Tennessee, and how my great-great-grandparents moved to Texas shortly after the Civil War. And how, via our Kirkpatrick ancestors in Scotland, the family connects to Robert the Bruce and the royal families of Scotland and England.

I wish my great-grandfather Louis Dillard Kirkpatrick could have lived to know so much about the family. He loved history with a passion!

My great-grandfather Louis Dillard Kirkpatrick, circa 1949.