Week 3 – 52 Ancestors Challenge – Longevity – A Long & Winding Road

Definition of Longevity

1  a : a long duration of individual life

    b : length of life

2 : long continuance : permanence, durability 

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.”

Eb & Sarah Smith

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

That which is not written is lost forever…..

Whispers from the Past…..

Week 2 – 52 Ancestors Challenge – Favorite Photo

Sarah Jane Carroll 1844-1885

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.

Nancy Boultinghouse Carroll Letter
Murder of Daniel Carroll

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

Whispers from the Past…..

Week 1 – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

 

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.

Family Stories by Ada Ruth Grantham Storm

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.

So, there you go, that’s my start……. #52ancestors

Whispers from the Past …..