It's not what you gather, but what you scatter, that tells what kind of a life you have lived.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday's Wealth

Today is Wednesday and the first post of my new feature, Wednesday's Wealth. Today I go to the temple and the Family History Center to do genealogy. And that's today's wealth. Family. My family is not perfect, not by a long shot, but they are mine and I love them. Back a few generations, my husband's line goes one direction to Jesse James and another direction to Pocahontas. Not bad, huh? And the Pocahontas and John Rolfe line is the only one so far on my husband's side that I can take out of the U.S.! His people are ensconced in the hills of Kentucky and Virginia and I don't know where else, and I haven't found the ancestors that are from somewhere else.

Now on my line, they go to Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, and France, and that's just the ones I have so far. My mother used to tell me I was English, Irish, Dutch, Scottish, German and Welsh, but I haven't found the Dutch or Welsh people yet. I'm still looking, though. And my great-grandfather used to tell my mother that she had Indian blood, but he was always teasing her and calling her "Red" because she had red hair, so I don't know if he was teasing about the Indian thing too, or not. He also used to tell her his name was, "Jonathon DeWitt Talmadge Crackass and Popcorn Kerby", too, and she got in trouble at school when she was young because of that. They asked the usual back-to-school question, "What did you do over the summer?" and she told them she spent the summer with her grandparents in Idaho. When they asked her grandparents names, she gave that name for her grandpa and got sent to the office for using bad language. It was the only name she knew him by and she really believed it was his name! Now, no one seems to know for sure whether his name was Jonathon DeWitt Talmadge Kerby, Jonathon DeWitt Kerby, or Jonathon Talmadge Kerby. I choose to believe it was the first one, and I named my second son, Clifton DeWitt, after him.

Jonathon DeWitt Talmadge Kerby and Martha Ethel Hooper Kerby with I don't know which of their 9 children.
I think it's their youngest, Ethel, but I'm not sure. My mother was named Ethel, too.
That was on her mother's side. On her father's side, I have finally broken through the brick wall I had there for many years. My mother's paternal grandmother was named Sylvia May McGrew. For a long time I could find nothing on her, until one day I was at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City(back when it was just the Genealogy Library) and I stumbled upon her and her sisters in an orphanage, which surprised me, because her father was not dead! I wasn't sure it was her, but the coincidence was too great for it not to be. On the census of the White's Iowa Institution for Homeless Children was listed not only my grandmother and her 5 sisters, but also 2 young men who worked at the institution by the names of Walter and Arthur Harrison. My great-grandparents were Sylvia May and Walter Harrison! That was no coincidence! That was divine intervention. I had looked for so long, with no luck, and then Bingo! There they were. It took me quite a while to prove they were mine, because the institution had no record of family information, but I kept at it until I connected the dots.

Sylvia May McGrew Harrison

Walter Henry Harrison and son, George Walter Harrison
That's on my mother's side. On my father's side, I have a brick wall too, one that my grandmother tried for years to get through. Her grandfather and his brother came from Germany in a time of political unrest. The story goes that his family was nobility and feared for the lives of their sons, and so sent them to America to get away from the war. where they most assuredly would have been sent to the front lines and killed. They came across with another family, who kept them safe until they got here. They changed their name from von Markus to Markus, then to Marcus, and finally, my grandfather changed his name to Morris to be more "American."  After years of searching for records of their journey from Germany, she received a letter from a lady that belong to the family they came over with, and she knew the story well. Only it wasn't the same story we had. Her story was that the two boys took her family name so that no one could come find them and force them to go back to Germany. This story leaves me in a quandary. If this is true, I don't even know what name to look for! She didn't know what their name was before they took her family name, so I don't even know who they were!  I've read a little history of Germany, and I can't find any record of nobility "disappearing" during and times of unrest, and I thought for sure there would be some kind of legend or tradition associated with this kind of thing. But I have found nothing so far. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

So there you have it. My other brick wall. But along with that, I have some good histories and family stories that I love to read. My grandmother's other grandfather was a man named Priddy Meeks, and he was a "Thompsonian" doctor. I have yet to find out exactly what that meant, but I know from his history that he used a lot of herbs and natural substances, and that he was known far and wide for his success in healing. He lived in Nauvoo and was there when Joseph Smith was martyred, he came across the plains with Brigham Young, and he spent the remainder of his life in southern Utah. He had 3 wives and 27 children, and in all their histories I have never read a bad word about him.
Sarah Mahurin Meeks and Dr. Priddy Meeks. This was one of his other wives, not my great-great-grandmother.
His daughter, my great-grandmother, was named Sarah Deseret, and one of her daughters, Mary, was a midwife who was known all over southern Utah for her skills in delivering babies. I guess she followed in his footsteps the best way a woman could in those days. My grandmother was a great lady who lived to within one month of her 100th birthday. She was born and raised in Enterprise, Utah. She lived a full life, and I wish with all my heart that I had recorded all her stories. She was a nurses' helper as a young girl in Cedar City, Utah, married a miner named Fred Bagshaw and lived in quite a few places as they followed the mines.
Margaret Deseret and Tessie Elizabeth (my grandma) Morris, rolling bandages in Cedar City, Utah, 1919

Tessie Elizabeth Morris Bagshaw with daughter, Rosalie, about 1924 or 25.
These are just a few of my genealogy treasures. I have untold and unseen wealth in these and other members of my ancestry. And I am still finding treasures. Little bits of stories and histories, that when added to those I already have, help to make the picture more complete.

Do you do genealogy? I hope so. It is your connection to the past and your path to the future. We all need to know who we are. It in an intrinsic part of our natures, and it makes us feel whole, complete. If you don't do genealogy...........why? As a young mother you can listen to the stories your grandparents have to tell. Tape them if they'll let you, and write them down if they won't. As an older mother of many or few, keep scrapbooks, label all the family photos, gather what you can before the preceding generation is all gone.  As a grandmother, write you own history and that of you husband, if he doesn't. Put things in an historical context for your family, so they understand what was going on around you as you went through life. There is always something we can do, no matter the season of life we are in. If you do nothing more than write down every birth, death, marriage, divorce, baptism, etc. for all the members of your family, you are doing family history. My grandmother had a little ledger-type notebook in which she kept a record of all the family dates for a long time, and I wish she had always done so. Those dates are the only record I have of some the divorces in the family, because people don't tend to record those. That little notebook has been of great value in helping me research her family.

William Faulkner said, "The past is not dead. It isn't even past." Genealogy is the act of collecting dead relatives and sometimes even a live cousin. I trace my family history so I will know who to blame! Until next time,

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