A few years ago I came across an item I didn’t even realize I had. Forty-plus years of research will do that to you. I found my Momma’s Baby Book. Mary Ruth Grantham was born 11 Apr 1927, she would have been 91 this year.
I was so excited to find this little treasure. I never in a million years would have thought it existed. Inside the worn cover I found such treasures.
Her first word was Daddy when she was six months old. Her daddy died a few months before her fourth birthday. My favorite entry for her First Words were “Blates like a sheep at 10 months”. Her daddy raised award winning sheep and all her life she missed him. Momma had an older sister, Norma and one of my favorite pictures is of them together. Momma was such a little butterball. She always had the sweetest smile.
My grandma was an interesting woman. She was widowed at the age of 28 with two little girls. She raised them through the Great Depression with the help of her family. I’ve often wondered how those events shaped her as a mother. I never would have dreamed she would have kept a record of my Momma’s milestones as a baby but I was even more surprised to find a tracing of Momma’s hand.
My husband gave me the first of many heart shaped pieces of jewelry 22 years ago. A simple sterling heart necklace that I wore constantly until about a year ago. I finally retired it to my jewelry box when the chain had quite literally sawed through the bail. Through the years, that little heart has entertained my grandbabies and my “Three Little Es”, great-nephews and great-niece, Eli, Ean, and Eliza.
My granddaughter has tried to talk me out of that little heart for more years than I can remember. I can’t count the times she’s told me that she wanted my heart ‘neckalass’. Of course Grandpa and Grandma have bought her several heart ‘neckalasses’ over the years but she still wants mine. My babies have played with that little heart, they’ve teethed on it, they’ve held it while they sleep.
I reluctantly replaced it with another heart, this one has a tiny key-hole and key. Naturally, the kiddos, especially the two youngest, want to try to fit the key in the lock. Whether a design flaw or by intent, that key doesn’t fit. Kids being kids, they don’t give up and they always ask, “Why doesn’t the key fit?” I tell them, “Only the one who holds my heart can fit the key into the lock.”
Children are amazing little creatures, I love watching their minds work and figure things out.
Before long, Eliza discovered a way to fit the key into the lock and soon they all had figured it out. While the little heart and key are symbols of the love shared by me and my husband and by my babies and me, it was brought home to me this Valentine’s Day how much we as adults influence and impress children.
Valentine’s Day, a small box appeared on my desk. It’s appropriate that the box had a “lock” on it and that inside was this simple message from the “Three Little Es” – “You Hold The Key To My Heart”…..
“A name, of course is like a piece of clothing, isn’t it? It gives you an impression right away.” James Salter
I never knew my great-great-grandmother, Weltha Josephine Owen Driver. She was born 30 Sep 1851 in Alabama and passed away 17 Sep 1932 in Graham, Texas, 30 years before I was born. Wealthy, as she was know to her family, was the oldest daughter of Albert Owen and Martha Collinsworth.
She appears in the census as “Wittly”, “Wilsy”, “Weltha” and “Wealthy”. She was married to John Allen Driver on March 22, 1869 in the tiny community of Etoile in Nacogdoches County, Texas at the home of her parents.
I always thought she had the most interesting name, I mean who names their daughter Wealthy and why? There are 229 names that mean Wealthy however, I could never find the meaning of the name Wealthy. Eventually I did find out that her great-grandmother was named Wealthy so finally I knew “why”.
In 1875, Weltha, John and their sons, Albert and Henry migrated from Long Creek, near Weatherford, Texas to Young County. While laying in supplies for the trip, John saw some dress material in a store in Weatherford and bought a length for Weltha.
She was so proud of the new dress she made from that material, and even more pleased because John had taken the time to pick it out for her. Shortly after they began the trip to their new home, little Henry became ill and John and Weltha would take turn about carrying him as they walked along side the wagon. One night after making camp it began to rain. Weltha wanted to keep the cool air off Henry so she drew the wagon sheet up tight and hung her new dress up to block any air from coming in. In the morning, Weltha was heartbroken to find that during the night the cow had chewed her new dress.
I have often wondered if being named Wealthy or the incident with the cow influenced her personality. She was very “frugal”. Even though they were “well off” for the time, she would wear a dress until it was so worn out her daughter-in-law would intentionally get it hung in the washer ringer and would then tear the dress apart so Wealthy would have to start wearing a new dress.
Since 1996, I’ve theorized about why my husband’s Uncle Wiley had the middle name Green. Was it a family name? Maybe it was a place name? If it was a family name, whose family was it from? For years, we played this guessing game and never got any closer to solving this little mystery.
Part of the problem with Uncle Wiley’s name was that the Boman family was a little difficult to track down. One reason is because there was no consistency in the spelling of the names and they kept moving back and forth across the Alabama/Tennessee border. My husband thinks they were probably moonshiners, but that’s another story.
This past fall, I was talking to Uncle Wiley’s daughter-in-law and she told me that she had always heard he was named after a neighbor. I have to say that I had seriously dropped the ball in this case. I know that you always need to take a look at the other people on the census, well, I hadn’t done that. Sure enough, in the 1900 Marshall County, Alabama Census, there was Uncle Wiley and his family lived next door to Green Butler and his family, including a son named Wiley in the Kennamer Community.
While I haven’t figured out if there is any connection, other than being neighbors, between Green and Wylie Butler and Uncle Wylie Green Boman, I did notice a few things.
Green Butler was born 28 Mar 1867 in Alabama and had a younger brother named, Wylie
Louis Jackson Boman, Uncle Wylie’s father, was born 22 Oct 1864 in Alabama
In 1870 they were both living in Jackson County, Alabama, Green in Woodville, Louis in Scottsboro – 30 miles apart
In 1880, Green Butler is living in Woodville, Jackson, Alabama with his widowed mother, younger brother, Wylie, and other siblings
Louis Jackson Boman and family are MIA – UPDATE a cousin found Louis and his siblings living in Kennamer, Marshall, Texas. His mother, Mary, had remarried to Alexander Parker and the Boman children are also listed under the name Parker
1887 – Robert Washington Boman is born in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
1889 – Minerva Jane Boman is born in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
1890 – Julie Boman is born and died in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
1892 – Mattie Elizabeth Boman is born in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
1893 – Cora Elizabeth Boman is born in Woodville, Marshall, Alabama
1900 is where I found the two families living as neighbors in the Kennamer Community
In 1910, Green Butler is still living in Woodville, Jackson, Alabama, his son, Wylie Butler is married and living in Kennamer, Marshall, Alabama
Louis Jackson Boman and family, including, 7 year old Uncle Wiley, are now living in Wood County, Texas near the Kennamer family that they migrated to Texas with
Oh yeah, did I mention that Green Butler married Delilah Kennamer after his first wife died?
So while the mystery of why Uncle Wylie Boman’s middle name was Green is solved, it has left me with a laundry list of new questions surrounding him and his family.
Around my house, dinner is the noon or mid-day meal. While what you call a particular mealtime isn’t overly important, in this instance it is.
It seems like every Sunday after church, every birthday, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and many times in between, all of our family would gather at Momma’s house for dinner. Some weeks Momma fried chickens other times it was roast. There was always mashed potatoes and gravy and sometimes she would fix “Pineapple Salad” which consisted of a lettuce leaf with a slice of pineapple on it and a dollop of miracle whip in the hole of the pineapple ring. I always told her she was messing up three good things by combining them and fortunately she didn’t make me eat it. There was always sweet tea to drink, she fixed it in an old crock pitcher that belonged to her grandma. When Momma died, her oldest grandson said that he wished he could have one more glass of Grandma’s sweet tea.
My older sister, Becky, and I both liked the chicken’s liver and each time Momma fried chicken, she and I would have to share it. My oldest nephew, Tom, and I would pull the pully-bone or wishbone, as some people call it and every time, he would get the short end. This was always a guaranteed argument because it meant he would get married first and I am eight years older than him. Most weeks we’d have homemade banana puddin’ for dessert. Momma never made it pretty, but it was certainly delicious. To this day my niece will only eat it while it’s still hot because that was how Grandma fixed it. Other times she would fix chocolate puddin’ and before she beat the meringue into it, she’d always take a bowl out for my daddy because he didn’t like “calf slobbers”.
We were a big and boisterous group, often there were 15 of us and we’d pull the table apart and add the extra leaves and then everyone would squeeze in. It always seemed like everyone was talking at once yet we knew what was going on in each conversation. Momma didn’t believe that children should be seen and not heard.
After everyone was full and the kitchen was cleaned up, Momma and Daddy would go into the living room and take a nap in their chairs. The grandkids would head outside to run and play. The adults would congregate in the dining room and play board games like Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble. There was always a lot of laughing and joking and often we would end up in hysterics because Momma and Daddy would be in the next room trying to out snore each other.
Times were so much simpler, kids played outside, the adults sat around and visited and played games, no one was glued to their cell phone or computer.
I would love to be able to go back for just one Sunday afternoon.
1 cup sugar
6 Tbs Flour
2 Cups of Milk
2 Egg Yolks – beaten
Bananas & Vanilla Wafers
Whisk sugar and flour together
Stir in milk until smooth
Stir in beaten egg yolks
Add butter – about the size of an extra-large egg
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened
Stir in a splash of vanilla extract
In a large bowl alternate layers of vanilla wafers and sliced bananas (we prefer more cookies than bananas
Pour hot puddin’ over the cookies and bananas (Momma always poked a large spoon down through them to mix the puddin’ in good, like I said, it’s not a pretty dessert
Double or triple recipe as needed
Add 3 Tbs of Cocoa powder if you prefer Chocolate Puddin’, Momma would make meringue (calf slobbers) out of the egg whites and then beat it into the chocolate puddin’
At some time during the 1980s, I was visiting with a cousin by phone. Madolyn was somewhat of a legend, a living History and Genealogy of the Williamson and Burnet County, Texas areas. She could pull info out of her memory like you would a computer. It turned out that Madolyn had rescued dozens of documents that were scheduled to be destroyed.
During the course of our conversation, Madolyn told me that she had several marriage licenses that I would be interested in. She named off some aunts and uncles and then mentioned my great-great-grandparents, Eb Smith and Sarah Jane Carroll. Naturally I wanted copies and asked if I paid for the copies, would she be able to make and send them to me. she would send them to me.
When the mail arrived a couple of days later, I was excited to see an envelope from Madolyn. I had never once imagined what I would find in that package. There, among the original marriage licenses of several of my maternal great-great-aunts and uncles, was the handwritten license of Eb & Sarah Jane Smith and a note from Madolyn saying, “I kept this safe until I found the right person to give it to.”
On December 20, 1860, Ebenezer Smith married Sarah Jane Carroll, he was 20, she was 16. They were married for 26 years before she passed away. They had 17 children including a three sets of twins and a set of quadruplets, who were born in 1876. Sarah was preceded in death by seven of her children.
I can’t imagine how difficult their lives were. I’ve often heard people say that “things were different back then” or that “death was just a part of living”.
At 157 years old, this document is the oldest original document I possess. To say it is prized, is an understatement. To me, this simple, piece of paper symbolizes a family, a father born in 1840, a mother born in 1844, a joining together in 1860 that resulted in a family that lived, loved, and died with their youngest daughter in 1967. How many families can claim to have spanned 127 years within the original family unit?
When I think of Sarah and Eb, I always think of how this family treasure came into my hands. From a courthouse in 1860 to a lover of History in the 1900s to a woman who had gazed at the faces of her great-great-grandparents while listening to their granddaughter, my grandmother, tell about their lives. I look at this simple piece of paper and I am reminded of the countless number who have come before me and those who are yet to be born. They are why I travel the road I do, they are why I am who I am. #52ancestors
When I saw what the prompt was for week two, I had a small panic attack. “How in the world am I going to choose a favorite photo?”
Now, normally that might not be a big deal but, having recently added several thousand photos to my collection….. well, you get the problem.
Fortunately, a cousin made this decision fairly easy for me. Recently I received a message asking if I knew who was in a picture she’d come across while scanning lots of family photos to share. I hate to say that I forgot to answer her, but I did. We were out of town and when we got home first one thing and then another came up. Two weeks later she reminded me about the picture and I determined to stop right then and figure this out. I knew the woman looked familiar but I had never seen this particular photo.
After asking some questions about where she found the photo and if there was anything on the back, the light came on. I immediately pulled up a picture along with the one she was inquiring about and started doing semi transparent overlays. Perfect match.
Sarah Jane Carroll, my maternal great-great-grandmother, was born in 1844 in Scott County, Arkansas to Nancy Boultinghouse and Daniel Carroll, she was the oldest of their four children. When Sarah Jane was only six, her daddy was murdered in Scott County. She, her momma, and siblings, moved to Williamson County, Texas, following her grandfather and other family members. At the early age of 16, Sarah Jane married Ebenezer Smith and they had 17 children including three sets of twins and a set of quadruplets. It should come as no surprise that she passed away at the age of 41 when her youngest daughter, Louise, was only two.
For over 55 years, I’ve known her face, I always thought that she had such a serene look about her. Her portrait and that of her husband, Eb, hung in my grandmother’s home until they were passed to me. It was such a pleasant surprise to find that 50 years after her death, we could finally see her face as she looked shortly before she died.
I had often wondered if after giving birth to 17 children and burying seven of them, she would look old beyond her years, somehow haggard. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the serenity of her youth was still present in her eyes. #52ancestors
When I first read about the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, I thought, “Wow, what a great idea, for someone else.” After all, my projects are bigger than that.
I was still thinking about it a couple of days later and hadn’t deleted the email from my Inbox. It kept nagging at me. I got to thinking about how it might be fun.
So, here we are. I may be the only person in the world that ever reads this, hopefully not. I may not make it through 52 weeks, hopefully so. However it turns out, I’m going to give it a whirl and just maybe I’ll make some new discoveries along the way.
Briefly, the challenge is – “To develop the habit of writing/recording our family history discoveries and getting them into a format that can be shared. The data that we’ve accumulated in our genealogy software and in our binders and folders doesn’t do a whole lot of good just sitting there. We need to do something with it.
Blog. Write in a journal. Send an email to your cousins. Create a scrapbook page. Make a copy of a photo and write (in pencil) on the back. Make a video.”
Each week you’re given a different prompt or assignment and it’s up to you what you do with it.
The prompt for Week 1 is – Start. Forty-two years ago I began this crazy journey of researching my family. Many people know this started with a school project when I was 14. The genealogy bug bit and boy did it bite hard. I recently had a fellow researcher tell me how nice it was to meet someone so consumed with researching their family. Hmm, I wonder if there is a genealogy detox group?
The thing is, I don’t just enjoy researching my family, I enjoy researching your family, and his, and hers, etc. Seriously, if I get bored or frustrated with whatever branch of my tree I’m currently working on, I have a “Miscellaneous Tree” that I play with. It contains people my husband or I grew up with, Historical figures, people I just wonder about. Yeah, I know, I’m ‘consumed’.
If I had to point my finger at one relative and say, “This person is why I do this.”, I couldn’t. I would have to say it is because of three amazing women, My Momma, my MamMaw, and my great-aunt, Ruth. She was my paternal grandfather’s only sister. I never knew my Grandpa Bill, he died when my Momma was four, so he always was a mystery to me. Anyway, Aunt Ruth would come see my MamMaw every once in a while and it seemed like she and her daughter always got here about 10 pm. My Momma and I would go over to see Aunt Ruth and Bernice and visit until the wee hours of the morning. I would get to miss school because Momma always thought what I could learn from those visits was far more important than anything I would have learned in a classroom.
Aunt Ruth and my MamMaw, gave the foundation that I’ve built on for these 42 years. My Momma was my cheerleader. No matter how small my discovery might be, she was always excited. As my collection of information has grown to Titanic proportions, I often think back to a small red folder. In the early 1960s, Aunt Ruth wrote down what she knew of her family. For years, Momma guarded that folder as one of her most prized possessions and reminded me that I better make sure it got back to her. Whenever I would question a piece of research or need to verify the path I was on, I referred to that folder. For well over 20 years, I thought the red folder was lost. MamMaw and Aunt Ruth had both passed, Momma had gotten ill and lots of things were thrown away when she passed. From time to time it would cross my mind and I’d wish I could look at it one more time. Christmas 2017 brought a wonderful surprise. My oldest sister presented me with that little red folder. She had put it away years before when Momma was ill and had come across it recently. It was time for me to have it, she felt.
People ask me why I love genealogy, after all, they’re just a bunch of dead people. I guess the best answer I can give is that while many of the people in my research are indeed dead, who they were and how they lived had a hand in who I am today. Oh yeah, the added bonus is that in 42 years, I’ve “met” hundreds of cousins that I otherwise would never have known.