As I said yesterday, I am diving into a renewed interest in genealogy. I realized when writing my Legacy Project blog that I was the keeper of much of the family history – on both sides. In 1990 (or there abouts) Al’s mother became very ill and had to have an operation to remove her gall bladder. Jan had a young teenager at home, and Larry and Marianne had kids at home, too. I only had Bill and Big Al in the house then, and Bill was a junior in high school, and well able to take care of himself and his father, so I picked up and drove to Florida and spent three weeks there helping Mom and Dad as she recuperated from her operation. Because of that, I was able to hear many of her memories of when she was a little girl. I haven’t written many of them down yet, but I intend to.
I suppose because of that, and because she knew I had a flirtation with genealogy in the late 1990s, she made sure I had access to Aunt Nellie’s Bible where she (Aunt Nellie) had listed all of the Watters back to the old country – and had dates and birthdays for them. With the wonderful resources that are available on-line, I have been able to get the Watters sorted out. I’ve also been able to get her birth father’s relatives sorted out, and get them properly placed in the family tree.
My interest started in genealogy started when my great-aunt Mamie had her daughter type up a diary/memoir from HER great-uncle (sorry, I haven’t gotten the “3rd great” or “5th grand” language down yet). At any rate, William Spencer Eakin had written a little history of the Eakins sometime prior to 1848 when he was lost and presumably died in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Aunt Mame had added names, marriages and birth dates of all the relatives that she knew about up through about 1970. So I had a great jumping off place for my project in the family genealogy.
About the only thing that was missing was any definitive information on Papa’s side of the family, although he knew HIS grandmother who had immigrated from England about 1850, and he knew the names and general birth dates of his father’s father’s brothers who had come over from Germany about the same time. The US Census is WONDERFUL for 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 (the last year it has been released for). You can see people living in the same house, and in the same neighborhood, so, once you know sisters and brothers, you can easily sort out which Harriet Evans from Illinois is the right one for your family. I’ll never again fuss about having to fill out the census forms. Unfortunately, the US Census from 1890 is fragmentary, so it’s easy to lose family units in the twenty years between 1880 and 1900. I still have some rabbit trails to follow about that time. But this is really fun.
After I get everyone sorted out and in their proper place (I’m aiming for 1850) I’ll start adding the stories that I’ve collected from various people about various people. The last time I was working on this, I didn’t know anything about Nannie’s mother’s family, other than “she was one of the Harrises of Virginia.” But because she had a cousin named Notley, I’ve been able to sort out that family, too, with the help of the census records.
If any of you, gentle readers, have stories about the family that you might want to have included in a family genealogy, please let me know, and I’ll do my best to get them in.