Part one left you with this statement: there are a plethora of resources for a genealogical exploration but be prepared to get tired and frustrated and you may also find it necessary to seek a bit of help.
Let’s assume for a moment that your family history is out there just waiting for you to start looking. You may ask yourself, do I really want to know?
All of us who believe in history and heritage, be it public or private are well aware that it isn’t always glorious. There may exist soldiers, outlaws or leaders. They may have lived adventurous or lackluster lives. They may have been Native American, European, Asian, African or a pinch of this and a pinch of that. But here is the best part of it all; it is your unique story. You can improve on it, learn from it or simply choose to ignore it. The latter may be a tad difficult if your family enjoys the ritual of periodic reunions, but that is a subject for another day.
I had the good fortune to have been raised by a father who felt it was a part of his parental duties to pass along family histories. In addition, I shared many years living with or near my paternal grandparents and have become the keeper of a wonderful collection of family memorabilia. These factors got me off to a good start and the Internet has proved to be a valuable asset. Though not nearly done, I have discovered new relatives and some very interesting stories.
I will impose upon your goodwill and share a few of the highlights. My Dad’s side consisted of Nelsons and Johnsons starting out in Maryland and Virginia and emigrating south finally settling in West Texas in the second half of the 19th century. There is a story about great-granddaddy Johnson who joined the CSA 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles when he was 15 stating later that, “He lied about his age to get in and he would have gladly lied about his age to get out.”
My great-grandfather Nelson was orphaned at about 16 and became a buffalo skinner. He was Scurry County’s first sheriff but after his only prisoner set fire to the jail, he decided it wasn’t the life for him and resigned. He moved a few miles from the county seat of Snyder and began ranching. The ranch is still in one piece and the house and at least one original out building survive.
My mother’s family of Collins and Royers came to this country in the mid - 1800s from France, Germany and Eastern Europe. They settled in Ohio and Illinois. My research on the Royers and Collins has been more challenging but fruitful, nonetheless. I have found veterans from WWI and II and a first cousin who apparently suffered from wanderlust and possessed some serious commitment challenges. They tell a story on him that he left his fourth wife in Illinois while on the proverbial “jaunt to the store for a pack of cigarettes.” They heard later he was living in California.
Not surprisingly, I discovered three great-uncles from Ohio who fought for the Union Army during the American Civil War. The family history states that they were all killed, but I have yet to confirm. 2019 Update: It was one great-uncle “Leo:” killed July 8, 1864 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Co E, 104th Ohio Infantry.
There is much more to unearth, and I find it all fascinating. I think my favorite piece of information may be that my great-grandmother in the Collins line was from Bohemia. Some might say it explains a lot about her great-granddaughter.
Until next week, be well.