What makes us the people we are? Nature, nurture, genetics, environment? I’m not sure anyone really knows a definite answer, but I believe a combination of ‘all of the above’ could be at play. One specific line I have come to know rather well is the genetic, both by paper and DNA. It’s fascinating, and an obsession.
While on a trip with my grandmother to Yalobusha Co, MS back in the 90s, her sister took us to a nearby county cemetery on our way home. The entire cemetery was filled with people I was related to, and it affected me very deeply. It was that incredible connection, seeing the names of many generations, 150 years, of people in one location, that not only was I related to those in the ground, but the towns residents too. I drove them back to her house and said “I’ll be back. I’m going back to Houlka.” I walked the cemeteries, went to the library (of which had already heard kin was in town) and found books upon books with my family in them. I felt like a sudden celebrity with a famous family I never knew about.
I was hooked.
But it was truly my grandfather who instilled that ‘love of family’ in me as a child. See, I knew some of these locations, or was close to those living, because he used to pay me $5 a letter, with unlimited stamps included, to write letters to my great grandmothers, and even great-great aunts as a child. I loved to write so for me it was a no brainer. Luckily, I had the forethought at 10, to save the letters they wrote back. I still have them to this day and they are some of the most valuable things I own.
I grew up with a fairly large family, more extended than the traditional definition of a nuclear family, but to me they were all my family. Sadly, my nuclear family, right after this trip to MS, suddenly started shrinking, every year, some more than one in a year. Then they were gone, many much much much too young. The memories I have of them are cherished. And the quest to find all of their ancestors has truly become an obsession.
Details are my forte as is researching outside the box when things aren’t straightforward. DNA is becoming another obsession (WHY didn’t I know about y-dna years ago!?!!) I have been gifted an expanded memory that includes allied surnames, that, while the recall isn’t what it used to be, serves me well in trying to put puzzle pieces together. My ancestors, as strange as this sounds, have become my guides through this process, and yes there are times when I can almost tell you which one is kicking clues off the clouds above to land in my lap. Some ancestors have ‘conditions’ on when they will help me, most recently it’s been I must help others selflessly, something I normally do anyway but within minutes something I’ve been hunting for for YEARS literally drops in my lap OUT OF THE BLUE.
I can also drive you crazy with details (this “About” is an example). I can’t bullet-point anything if my life depended on it. But when I say I’ve come to a conclusion I would take to court and it would stand up, take that to the bank. I have theories, I have strong hunches, I have leaning this direction and the “I’m pretty sure” but I don’t come to conclusions lightly nor without proof to back up my decision. And I will go out of my way to ‘show my work’ to you, if this pertains to your family. Ask my cousins I work with. They’ve seen me in action, and some have benefited from a ‘wild hair’ thought I had. I’ve stumbled into adoption scenarios, one even pertaining to my close family. I will help anyone, allied or direct ancestor lines.
I will say outloud, it does drive me nuts when people have my lines wrong in their trees, especially if they are only ‘barely related’ or even those that have the connection downright wrong. Where has the ethics of doing your own work, not pointing/clicking these days? But that’s another topic for another day.
So, join me and my cousins on this adventure of genealogy, research, details but most of all creating a new nuclear family out of those who I never knew as a child but have become the dearest to my heart today. And it all started with these 3 lines: Buchanan, Long and Carroll and the 1890 fires that destroyed not only the 1890 Federal censuses, but the one in Franklin County, Alabama that torched all the records at the courthouse pre-1890. To say these 3 lines have been a challenge to research would be the understatement of 3 centuries. But it was from this that relationships were born, my skills are being tested and sharpened, and I learned so much about DNA. The colored names are a nod to the colors I use to group these 3 lines I call my “trifecta” when working DNA matches for me, and many of my cousins. Welcome to Club BLC.