Resolution – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This is week 52 in our 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project for 2018. Time to look back on the year and to look forward into next year.

Resolution is our theme. I thought about taking this as a chance to talk about someone who demonstrated resolve and stalwartness.  I think instead, I will stick to the idea of a Resolution for myself in the new year.

Even though I began this project partway through the year, it has been a great experience.  I look forward each week to putting together a short piece about some ancestor.  But, this has helped me see what in my research needs some attention.  So, I am going to make a few Genealogy Resolutions for the New Year.

I am counting on all of you to help keep me accountable on these and helping me to track my progress. But, I will try to use some of the project management tools we use at work. I just went to Scaled Agile training and thought about that, but it’s too much trouble. I took a look at Trello and am not feeling that, either. So, technology isn’t the way to make this happen. Just Resolve, I guess.

I expect many of us who have ever had to do goal-setting have heard that we need to have S.M.A.R.T. goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Take a look here for more information on S.M.A.R.T. goals. I’m going to stick with that method. I also think that the closer the time horizon is, the more specific the goal needs to be. As you get farther out, you can be a little more nebulous.

I’m going to group these goals into categories. So, here we go:

Community Participation

  • Participate in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2019. My schedule is to publish these blogs on Fridays. Update Facebook and Twitter with new posts. Timeframe: all year
  • Participate in Wordless Wednesdays. My schedule is to publish these on Wednesdays. Update Facebook and Twitter with new posts. Timeframe: all year
  • Start attending a local genealogical society’s meetings and find a way to get more involved.  Cobb County Genealogy Society may be a good fit. They meet the 4th Tuesday of the month. Timeframe: Attend first meeting in January or February.

Archives and Organization

My archives closet

Just for context, here’s my archive closet. I also have a lateral file in my office, another couple of shelves of books, and another big stack hidden in a window seat. All of the chaos is hidden, but it’s there.

  • Inventory archival supplies on hand. I know I have a lot of sheet protectors and folders and maybe some empty archival boxes. Timeframe: by 1 Jan 2019
  • Make sure all documents are in archive folders to protect them. Label folders. Timeframe: at least two boxes per month, starting in January.
  • Sort photos and documents into boxes grouped by family line. Most are grouped already, but there are several boxes labeled just “Incoming”. Timeframe: at least two boxes per month, starting in January. Concurrent with folders.
  • Finally scan wedding pictures. It’s only been 22 years. Timeframe: Complete before 28 April 2019 (the anniversary of our engagement).
  • Settle on an organizational scheme for digital and scanned photos and documents.  I have thus far mostly grouped photos by large family groups, or by who gave them to me.  This isn’t working for many anymore as some of these groups have grown to nearly 2000 images.  This is going to have several sub-steps:
    • Determine folder organization. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Determine naming scheme. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Determine scheme for tagging photos and documents for easier searching. Timeframe: by 31 March
    • Select one group for a test and copy it into the new scheme. Timeframe: by 31 May
    • Test for two months to see if it works. Timeframe: by 31 July
    • If successful, apply the scheme to the rest of the documents. Timeframe: by 31 December 2019
  • Be sure all documents and photos in the closet are actually scanned. This includes rescanning things scanned at low resolutions. Identify people in photos or determine that their identity needs to be researched. Even if the whole workflow isn’t finalized, they can go into the incoming queue. Timeframe: one box per month, starting in April.
  • Scan Grandmother’s photo album that I never scanned. Timeframe: complete by 28 Feb 2019

Research Goals

This is actually the hard part. All the rest of my goals are organizational or about participating. These are the hard research questions. You have to keep doing research in order to have interest in the rest. I think this might be more modest. I have to decide what walls to bang my head against. After thirty years, all you have left are brick walls, I think.

  • Secret Project #1 – Timeframe: 31 January
  • Secret Project #2 – Timeframe: 28 February
  • Connect with Sartain DNA match from Ancestry to try to find out about Mary J. Sartain. Timeframe: 1 May
  • Identify lineage societies that I or my family could join. Detail necessary descent. Select one and apply. Timeframe: 30 June
  • Document and prioritize current list of open research questions. Timeframe: 1 April

So, there it is. Seems sort of aggressive, but it’s time to get things under control. I have been thinking of pursuing certification as a Certified Genealogist in a few years. To do that, I need to get better about my organization and methodology. I am counting on all of you to keep me accountable to these goals. I’ll post updates as I go along as to how I am doing.

Here’s to a great 2019! Happy New Year!
–SCott

Nice – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Nice. Some people are just naturally nice – optimistic, caring, considerate, polite, and full of an inner joy. Others know how to make their way through, doing and saying the right things. But it’s just not the same. I think the key to “nice” is the inner glow and sense of caring that you can feel from a nice person.

Bettie Higgs Finney (b. 24 Nov 1903, Arkansas, d. 2000, Oklahoma) – Be sure to zoom on that cute face.

When you think about your ancestors, “nice” is likely lost a lot sooner than “naughty”. We just don’t spend as much time passing down the stories of the person who, day in and day out, cared about folks in very ordinary ways. But, the naughty ancestor? There are *always* stories about them that come down the years.

Maybe we need to do a better job of telling the stories of the nice people in our families.

One of my nicest ancestors is my great-aunt Bettie. Bettie Higgs was born 24 Nov 1903 in Dequeen, Sevier County, Arkansas. In 1911, her family moved the 50 or so miles to Idabel in the new state of Oklahoma where her father was editor of a newspaper. And there, she stayed.

Bettie married Thomas Dunn Finney on 15 Mar 1924 in Idabel. Uncle Tom was an attorney in Idabel. He served for a time as the assistant Attorney General for state of Oklahoma in the 1930s. And in the 1940s, he served for several years as a state senator in Oklahoma. And then, they came back to Idabel.

Aunt Bettie and Uncle Tom had a single son, Tom Jr., who followed in his father’s footsteps and became an attorney, active on the national stage. They had four grandchildren, three of whom are still living.

Of course, my experience of Aunt Bettie came later in her life. I barely remember Uncle Tom. He died in 1968, while Aunt Bettie lived another 32 years. She died in 2000. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long.

But, Aunt Bettie was always cheerful and nice when I was around her. “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul! And forget not all His benefits” was something I heard her say over and over. That and “Oh, foot” as her multi-purpose punctuation mark saying.

Aunt Bettie lost her father when she was a teenager. Her mother worked as a teacher and things were not very easy for them in those days. Living in southeastern Oklahoma wasn’t easy for anyone, especially not then, and especially not for a widowed mother with five children. But Aunt Bettie, by my experience, always had an inner joy about her that allowed her to persevere.

Bettie Higgs Finney, 1989

Aunt Bettie lost her father when she was a teenager. Her mother worked as a teacher and things were not very easy for them in those days. Living in southeastern Oklahoma wasn’t easy for anyone, especially not then, and especially not for a widowed mother with five children. But Aunt Bettie, by my experience, always had an inner joy about her that allowed her to persevere.

In the 1980s, Bettie had a stroke while visiting her sister, Mary. She worked hard to regain all of her mobility. She would carry her cane around and forget it places since she really didn’t need it.

I remember driving Aunt Bettie from Idabel, Oklahoma down to Plano, Texas to visit my mother. As we crossed over the Red River in to Texas, Aunt Bettie exclaimed, “There’s old Red!” and said that that was what they always said in her family as they got to the river and crossed over. She told me stories along the way of being a young person in that part of the country years ago. Very cool day.

It’s funny, though. When we think about how someone is, and our experience of someone, everybody knows a person in different ways. Last January (I think), I was in New York City and was able to have dinner with Deedie, one of Aunt Bettie’s grandchildren and my second cousin. After dinner, Jenny, Deedie’s spouse of thirty years, met us for dessert. Jenny asked what memories of Aunt Bettie we had in our side of the family that might be different than the experience of their part of the family. I said how she was so nice and positive. Both Jenny and Deedie laughed a bit at that, I guess Aunt Bettie had a bit of fire in her, too. The niceness only would go so far! That’s certainly the case with her younger sister, Mary, my grandmother, too.

Aunt Bettie had a great letter that her grandfather sent her the day she was born, but more about that another day. I think that this is a good place to stop. Part of being nice is not overstaying your welcome! I hope we can all remember to share our stories of Nice ancestors instead of just the naughty ones.

Until next time, Merry Christmas!
–SCott

Naughty – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

I have to admit that this is a retread blog post.  But, it’s for a good reason.  This picture is, at least to me, a great one for our theme of “Naughty”.  I’ve focused thus far on my family.  This week, we’re going to take a side track into my wife’s family.

boyle-0050-f-v00-AlmaBowling-2.JPG
Alma Ross Boyle at the bowling alley

Kathleen’s grandmother, Alma Ross Boyle was quite the character.  I never knew her really well since she died not too long after we married, but I always enjoyed being around her.  Alma was born Alma Beatrice Ross in 1905 in Brockton, Mass.  She had two older sisters, Edna and Rotha.  I get the impression that the three of them were all full of spunk. 

One thing I remember about Alma is that she loved to bowl.  She would drive to the bowling alley and play candlepins every week.  After she could no longer drive, she tried to walk to the bowling alley for a few weeks before the folks in her apartment building made her use the shuttle.  Alma died in 2001 at 96 years old, after fainting at the bowling alley.  Of course.

But, what I really laugh at is the picture of Alma, Edna, Rotha, and all of their friends in their bloomers and underclothes and “unmentionables” out behind the school.  What in the world are they up to!  This would have been maybe 1920.  The era of the flapper and all, I guess.  I have never figured it out.  And who took the picture?  Did their parents find out about it?  What did they think?  I am sure that we will never know.  Alma, Rotha, and Edna are all gone and I am pretty sure that they never told their kids about that afternoon behind the school house.  Shame.

Someone once told me that girls at that point might take phys ed in their underwear.  Seems kind of sketchy and unlikely to me.  These girls are all mugging for the camera and making faces like they are up to something.

The Ross Sisters and their classmates

I believe the three sisters are all just to the right of the window.  Rotha is kneeling in the front row with the headband.  Edna is immediately behind her, to the left a bit.  And Alma is behind her.  Standing next to Alma, with her camisole strap off her shoulder, wearing boots, with her knee up, is a good friend, Barbara,  who appears in many pictures with Alma.  She and her husband and Alma and her husband, Joseph Francis Boyle, remained good friends, went to the beach together, and traveled together.   My father-in-law remembered her name as Barbara Mossier, but I am not certain if that spelling is correct or if that’s her married or maiden name.  I am not able to find her in the 1920 Census in Whitman, Massachusetts, where Alma lived.  If they were in school together, I would have expected to find her.  So, mystery.

The Ross Sisters – Edna, Rotha, and Alma

All three of the Ross sisters were long-lived.  Edna, the oldest, was born in 1902 and died in 2003 at the age of 101.  Rotha, born in 1903, moved to New York City, where she lived until nearly the end of her life.  She lived until 1996.  And Alma was born in 1905 and lived until 2001.  I only knew Alma.  But I am glad to have known her.  I bet that these three could have been the models of Naughty as young girls, when they wanted to.


Winter – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

I was surprised that a blog post on winter was as hard to come by as it ended up being.  I am certain that I remember a set of photos from the late 1940s when my father and his family traveled to Niagara Falls.  The pictures show the falls frozen and lots of snow.  But, I can’t find them anywhere.  Maybe Dad will know where they are.

But I found some pictures that were just as interesting and tell a story of a “big snow”, at least for Fort Smith, Arkansas.  I have talked about my granddad, Robert H. Dickson, Jr., previously.  Granddad took a lot of photos with his old camera (I think Dad still has that camera).  And Granddad did his own developing back in the day.  I guess he didn’t have an enlarger, or maybe only had a small one, because so many of his photos are 2″ x 2″ and maybe a bit grainy.  But, they are great fun to see, since so many of them are really candid and completely unstaged.

So, I found a few pictures that Grandmother (Susan Louise Bailey Dickson) had captioned “Robert H. Dickson Jr. in that big snow of 1940”  Digging around in climatology history web sites, it looks like there was a snowstorm that dropped 9.4 inches of snow on Fort Smith, Arkansas in January of 1940.  Looks like Granddad and, I guess, Grandmother took the opportunity to go out in the snow.  I am betting that Grandmother took these photos.

Robert H. Dickson Jr. in the snow of January 1940

It doesn’t look like 9.4 inches in this picture, but it does look like Granddad needs a jacket!  I am only guessing that Grandmother took these photos.  Robert and Susan met in June 1938 and been dating for a year and a half by this point.  They got married just a month later on 23 Feb 1940.  It’s fun to see Granddad so young.  He looks so skinny.  And the paralysis on his face sort of gives him a scowl.  Kathleen thought that he looked mean in these pictures.

But, how could you think of him as mean when you see him out in the snow in his bare feet!  His pants are up around his knees and he’s barefoot in the snow here.

Robert H. Dickson, barefoot in the 1940 snow

The last of the pictures that I found was a fun one of the house that Granddad grew up in.  I find my great-grandparents, Robert H. Dickson, Sr., and Ethel Garner Dickson, in their house at 2230 N. 14th St., Fort Smith, Arkansas by 1925.  They lived there until Robert Sr’s death.  After that Grandmother Dickson lived there for at least a couple of years before moving.  I have never heard the reason that Fort Smith decided to renumber their streets.  North 14th St. became North 29th St., but the family didn’t move.  Grandmother notes that that’s her future father-in-law, Robert Sr., on the front porch.

Robert H. Dickson, Sr. on his porch at 2230 N. 14th St., 1940

So, even back in the day, wintertime could be a good time for our ancestors.  They could be excited by unusual snows.  They could go out to play in the snow.  And they could do goofy things in the cold, just because.  That’s the kind of thing that makes sure we remember that our ancestors were all real people just like we are.


Next to Last – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

I am glad to find that I am not alone in having a hard time figuring out what or who to write about for this week with the prompt “Next to Last”.  Jamie Gates over at Applegate Genealogy talked about having a little bit of a writer’s block with this topic as well. 

“Next to Last” is a funny thing.  Often, you don’t know until considerably after something has happened that it even was the Next to Last.  You don’t know that a child is the next to last until it’s completely clear that there are no more children coming to the family.  You often don’t know that something is the next to last time that you do something or that you see someone until much later.  And usually that means that it wasn’t planned as the next to last.

On the other hand, next to last can be wrapped in anticipation or at least a sense of waiting for something.  Remember the next to last final exam at college.  Or the next to last day before you were married.  We use this as a marker to move toward something.

None of that has anything to do with my topic this week.  I was looking at a pedigree chart and wondered how far back my maternal line went.  Well, I didn’t have to click far to get that answer.  I have only found my maternal ancestors (my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, and so forth) back about six generations.  So, I decided to introduce you to my next to last ancestor on my maternal line.  Hopefully I will be able to make this post incorrect before too long and take things back another generation.

Sarah Vincent, often called Sallie, was my great-great-great grandmother on my maternal line.  I can only get one more generation beyond her on the maternal line.  Seems to me that that’s not terribly far back.  Tracking the women is unfortunately difficult, and doing it in the frontier country of western North Carolina and east and middle Tennessee is an added difficulty.  But, here’s my line as I know it:

  • My grandmother – Mary “Mary Jim” Higgs, b. 1906, DeQueen, Arkansas, d. 1988, Memphis, Tennessee
    • My great-grandmother – Eliza Johnson “Lida” Cason, b. 1868, Carrollton, Pickens County, Alabama, d. 1941, Dallas, Texas
      • My great-great-grandmother – Elizabeth “Bettie” Cooper, b. 1834, Bedford County, Tennessee, d. 1901, Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas
        • My great-great-great-grandmother – Sarah A. “Sallie” Vincent, b. 1809, Rutherford County (?), Tennessee, d. 1864, Bedford County, Tennessee
          • My great-great-great-great-grandmother – Elizabeth Adcock, b. 1789, Granville County, North Carolina, d. 1848, Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee

It seems so strange to me that some folks get so caught up in their name line – their paternal line.  The family tree is a huge thing with many ancestors.  To focus so pointedly on the left edge of the tree ignores so much.  If you have found your paternal line eight generations back , to your 6th-great-grandfather, you have 510 ancestors in your tree.  Of those, 502 of them are not your paternal grandfathers.  (By the way, the same thing holds for following the strictly maternal line, too.)  There’s so much in the middle of the tree that’s exciting to research.

But, that’s a bit off-topic.  Sallie Vincent was born in 1809 in Tennessee.  While I have not found a record of exactly where she was born, her father had purchased land in Rutherford County, Tennessee by 1820 and appeared in the 1810 Rutherford County census.  So, I think she was probably born in Rutherford County, or nearby. 

Her parents were Henry Vincent (b. 1781, Granville County, North Carolina, d. 1841, Rutherford County, Tennessee) and Elizabeth Adcock (b. abt 1789, Granville County, North Carolina, d. before 1837, Rutherford County, Tennessee).  Henry and Elizabeth married 30 Sep 1805 in Granville County.  So, they moved to Tennessee as a young family.  Admittedly, I have not researched this family very thoroughly, but they appear to have had at least five children and at least one was already born before the move to Tennessee.  While Granville County, North Carolina was not a big city, they moved into the Tennessee frontier, barely ten years after statehood.

It does not appear that Sallie grew up on a “plantation” by any means.  Her father purchased land in Rutherford County and appears to have been a farmer.  In the 1820 census, he appears to have one slave.  In the 1830 census he is enumerated as having two slaves.  I need to search the tax lists to get a better idea of how much land they had.

When she was twenty years old, Sallie married Micajah Thomas Cooper in Rutherford County on 31 March 1829.  Micajah was from Rowan County, North Carolina, born there in 1806.  He was the son of Henry L. Cooper and Rebecca Hollis.  It appears that the family moved to Tennessee somewhere around 1808-1815.  Micajah’s grandfather, John Hollis, was already in Rutherford County in time to be enumerated in the 1810 Rutherford County census.

Through the years, Sallie & Micajah moved around Middle Tennessee, from Rutherford County to Coffee County to Bedford County.  They ultimately settled around Wartrace in Bedford County by 1834.  There, 10 of their 12 children were born (including Bettie, who went to Africa as a missionary in 1856.)

While Sallie was still in her thirties, she lost her mother and her father remarried.  She lost her father not many years after that.  She saw several of her children die young. 

Ultimately, Sallie, herself, died on 22 May 1864 in Wartrace.  She was buried at the New Hope Baptist Church in Fairfield, Tennessee.  She shares a grave plot with Micajah and some of her children.  It’s located immediately in front of the church, right on the driveway, so it’s hard to miss.

So, there you have it.  At least for now, Sarah Vincent is the next-to-last in my known maternal line.  Hopefully, this won’t be the case forever.  I hope to find out more about her and her ancestors.  I encourage all of my fellow researchers to take the extra effort to meet and get to know their female ancestor as well as their ancestors from difficult places (like the Carolinas).

Until next time,
–SCott

Thankful – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

As I write this, tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2018 here in the United States and Amy Johnson Crow has suggested Thankful as our them for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

When I started thinking about this, I found so many different directions that I wanted to go.  At first, I thought about one of my very favorite Thanksgiving Dinners that I celebrated with my grandfather Robert H. Dickson, Jr.  I talked about that some time back and you can see it here.

Then, I thought about pointing out that My ancestors were actually here for the First Thanksgiving in the Colonies, while Kathleen’s Mayflower ancestors were Johnny-Come-Latelys for the second one, even though they get all the credit.  Folks forget that the first commemoration of Thanksgiving took place in the Virginia Colony took place at the Berkeley Plantation in 1619.  My ancestor, Cicely Reynolds, was living very near to the plantation at that time and may well have been at that celebration of thanksgiving.  Kathleen, on the other hand, has a number of Mayflower ancestors (John, Elinor, and Francis Billington, John Howland, Francis Eaton, Henry Samson, Degory Priest), so of course there is a Thanksgiving connection there, too.

But this last Sunday, I was preparing my Sunday School lesson and hit on what I really wanted to talk about.  I am not the sort of genealogist who believes that my identity is defined or my future determined specifically by the lives of my ancestors or by my DNA.  But, I do know that important values are passed down from generation to generation.  I know that the experiences for good or for bad of one generation affect several to come.  And for the lessons and experience of those before me, I am thankful.

One of my favorite things is to teach adult Sunday School.  I am a guest speaker in a number of different classes at our church.  This past Sunday and this coming Sunday, I am visiting with one of my favorite groups.  This is a class where there may be members still in their seventies, but the vast majority are members of the Greatest Generation and are firmly in their mid- to late-eighties and nineties.  What could I possibly have to teach them?  But they are always gracious and welcome me and invite me back.

When I thought about it, I realized that I have a number of ancestors who were pastors and preachers.  But I also have a lot of members of my family who have taken the more informal route of teaching and leading adult Sunday School.  Mom is currently the president of her class.  My brother and his wife lead classes at their church.  My step-mother teaches Sunday School at her church as well as leading worship from time to time at the local county jail with my Dad.  (He helps; he isn’t a resident.)

And back through the generations, many of my ancestors shared their faith and their understanding by teaching Sunday School.  My maternal grandfather, Hudson Wren, led his Sunday School at the Wilson United Methodist Church in Wilson, Arkansas class for nearly 40 years.  I remember every Saturday evening, when we were at his house, he would retreat into his den, close the door, and work on his lesson.  We all knew not to disturb Papaw while he was working on his lesson because it was important to him.  Even though he saved his notes for years, not long before his death, he cleaned out his files and destroyed years of lessons.  I am thrilled to have some of the the ones that escaped.  I still refer to them for my own lessons.  Of course, they are often tied to the Adult Bible Study quarterlies from years and years ago and I don’t have those.  But I can still guess at the direction from the notes.  It’s fun to see his way of taking notes and writing and to hear his voice in them.

Hudson Wren’s Sunday School Lesson on Christian Maturity, 13 July 1975

We recently met my great-grandfather, Charles Council Bailey.  He also was called on to lead Sunday School from time to time.  I’ve got a few of the talks that he gave at different times, including one done for Sunday School.  I suspect that this is from the 1890s, though I don’t find a date on it.  That means it was probably when they lived in Milton or Stigler in the Indian Territory.  I have to say that I can identify with his comments as I lead classes full of folks who have all had long and full lives.  This is part of a talk he gave to and about the Sunday School and why it is important.

Charles Council Bailey talk on Sunday School

In this he says “… if I should attempt to offer a word of advice or define for older and better [men] the interest we should take in this work, that they will deal lightly with me when passing upon my presumption, and with careful hands winnow the chaff from the grain, if any grain there be in what I may offer.”  Sounds about right when standing in front of a group of folks who have seen far more of life than I have.

My maternal grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, often led the devotions for the Women’s society in her church.  I have a few of these and love them, too.  She’s quick and to the point in what she has to say.  That’s the point of these devotions that open the meetings.  Here’s one of hers.  I don’t know the date, but it was from late in her life.

Hey! Do You Know Who You Are?

Matthew 12:50 – Whoever does what my Father in Heaven wants him to do is my brother, my sister, and my mother.

Kirk Douglas: “Once, while I was driving to Palm Springs, CA, I picked up a hitchhiking sailor.  He got into the car, took a look at me and said “Hey! Do you know who you are?”  That’s a very good question.  A question we all have to ask our selves.” (From The Ragman’s Son: An Autobiography)

We live in a day when it is fashionable to lament that we need to find out who we are.  This was never a problem to me.  As the youngest of a large family and almost the only girl, I knew I was Somebody’s Little Sister or I was Charlie & Viola’s little girl.  I’ve known people who resented this identification with their family members.  I never did.  I do not resent one of my brothers introducing me as his “baby Sister”.  The knowledge that I was an integral, indeed an important, part of this closely knit family was a security that many people have not known.

If a brother caught me misbehaving, he would draw me aside and tell me to stop it.  If I argued that the other kids were doing it, they would reply “Yes, but you now better.”

Our meals were an unhurried time of sharing.  We told our small triumphs or defeats, as the case may be.

It was in [Sunday School] that I learned “Jesus Loves Me”. Also God is the loving Father of us all.  This did not seem strange to me for I had not yet learned that not all fathers are loving.  Later in [Sunday School], Mrs Clark taught me that I was a part of the church family and that expanded to the Family of God.

As I grew up my family kept expanding.  There was school and later I went to college.  Then I married and we were another family unit within the larger family of mankind.  I was a wife. Then a mother.  many years later I became a grandmother.  Then I was a teacher.

I am many things.  I am still a wearer of many hats.  Most important, I am a child of God – a sister of Jesus and of all who are children of the Father.  This, I think is the foremost “who” that I am.

As some of you may know, I sang in one choir or another most of my life.  One of my favorite anthems is an old one that is an adaptation of the 23rd Psalm, My Shepherd Will Supply My Need and ends with “Not as a stranger or a guest but as a child at home.”

I do not always do all the things that the Father would have me to do and, like Paul, I sometimes do what He would not have me do.  With much prayer and effort, I strive to live so that I can say I am a true child of the Father.

Hey! Do you know who you are?

Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, “Hey! Do You Know Who You Are?”

So, back to Thankful.  I am so thankful that in my family, I can find examples of people that I have known and loved and that I can discover and admire who help me to see who I am. Not that they determine me, but that their influence and experience on and in each successive generation is undeniable – both for good and for bad.  I am thankful that by finding my family and reflecting on who they were and are, I am able to answer Grandmother’s question more each day.  Hey!  Do you know who you are?

Random Fact – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Charlie Bailey was a song collector

This week, Amy Johnson Crow, the organizer of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks has given us a Bingo Free Space with Random Fact.  To me, that means some random thing about someone in my tree.

Well, Charlie Bailey was a song collector.  That’s pretty random.  And it’s something you would not find in any kind of a record that you would find. 

Birth, death, marriage, property, tax records.  None of those sorts of record tell you much about the person.  And that’s why it’s so important to get to know the family stories and to look more at your ancestors to get to know them.

Charles Council Bailey was my great-grandfather.  His youngest daughter, Susan Louise Bailey, was my grandmother.  Charles was born 26 July 1868 in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas.  He was the first child of Hume Field Bailey and Sarah Louise Council (each of them had children from a previous marriage).

Charles worked on his family farm, ultimately inheriting it.  He also worked as a clerk in a grocery in Hackett and as a carpenter, framing houses.  So, he was working to get by.  In 1895, across the Arkansas River, in Indian Territory, Charles and Viola Tennison married.  I wish I knew the story behind that.  I am not sure whether they had moved there and met or whether they went across the river to marry and settle down, or what.  It’s only about 30 miles from Hackett to Milton.  The first of their children, Carl Everett Bailey, was born in Milton.

Charles Council Bailey

From there, they moved another 30 miles west, to Stigler, Indian Territory.  There four more children were born.  But, by 1910, they had moved back to Hackett.  I suspect he moved home to run the family farm and help his mother.  (Once Oklahoma gained statehood, they came back to Arkansas.  Just the opposite from my ancestors in another line who moved to Oklahoma once it had gained statehood.  More about that another day.)

It was a tough life on that small farm, way out in the country.  It’s hard to put ourselves into that time and place and imagine what each day would be like.  Not just how hard people worked, but what else filled out their lives.

Charles Council Bailey

I was fortunate enough to get Charles Council Bailey’s trunk from my cousin Michael Bailey and to get a lot of his other papers that my grandmother had saved.  These folks were serious pack-rats.  I have tax receipts going way back.  I have other receipts going back to the 1840s for loans and for sale of property.  All of that along with lots of letters and pictures.

But in the midst of all of that paper were about 60 poems written out, or so I thought.  When I started Googling around for the verses, all of them ended up being old, old folk songs.  Charlie was a song collector!  These must have been some of his favorites.

Almost all of the songs have the date and the place that they were copied.  Seems like a lot of them came from November of 1895, just a couple of months after Charles and Viola got married.  Some where collected while the family lived in Milton in the Indian Territory.  Others were done while in Hackett.  There are a few that were copied by other people and say that they were done for Charles.  A few, Charles notes that he copied for Viola.

There are several that appear to have come from a ledger.  I don’t know whether he just used pages from the ledger, or these are just a small part of a huge collection.  The pages are numbered in the 600s.  If there were 600 more pages of these songs, I think we would have heard of this.

I wish I could ask my grandmother and her sister, Lucille, as well as their brothers, more about this.  Did their dad play and sing at home, for fun?  Did they all participate?  Seems like I recall there being an old fiddle that belonged to him.  Did I imagine a banjo as well?  Or was that someone else? (It could have been Kathleen’s family.)  Was he someone who loved to listen to others?  Was it the lyrics or the tunes that really resonated with him?

Here’s the thing: don’t let this sort of thing get lost.  Don’t just record the “facts” about your family.  Make sure you get a good idea of the people.  Remember them.  When the last person who actually knows another person dies, a lot of the memories of that person are inevitably lost and they fade a bit more into the past.  But, our family is our family and they are complete people, not just lists of facts.

Who knows!  Maybe some of these random facts, like Charles’ love of music are passed down through the generations.  I’ll close with a second random fact.  C. Michael Bailey, Charles grandson, has clearly inherited that love of music.  He’s a senior contributor and music critic for All About Jazz, an online community of jazz aficionados.  So, I think this random bit is still shaking through the tree.