Saturday, May 30, 2009

Still Digging

I know lots of folks think seeking out the dearly departed by five or six generations is a waste of time, but I'm enjoying it.

It's the stories, I tell you. I like fleshing out those birth/death dates in order to find the real individual who walked upon the earth before being planted in it.

Most of the time it's nice to go back five generations, more is like finding gold. There's always that ONE relative in the line where not much is known. Those are the ones, you later discover, where the permanent record was wiped clean by a fire or a disaster. I use to go nuts when I hit that guy in the middle of the family tree and the only way he could be connected was by being listed as someone's son or father. I learned to check that time and place in history to see if there had been a flood or fire. Nine times out of ten, that's what happened. Any written proof of a person's existence... gone up in flames.

Sad, somehow. Makes me want to make a mark on life bigger than my birth certificate.

Yesterday I hit some pay dirt that illustrates the cliche about it being a small world. Sure, we were a smaller country at the time but I still think of my Mom's relatives as being from N.C. while I was raised in South Carolina. Seems a couple of those relatives from Antrim County, Ireland immigrated to New Castle, Delaware then on to York County in S.C.. Yesterday's find was Alexander Faires who was listed as a Revolutionary War patriot. The cool thing was I found a written account of one of the battles he fought in. He was captured, but escaped the next day. To protect him, his wife Jennett took him a mile and a half from home to nurse him back to health. And as soon as he felt better, back into the fray he went. And lived to walk away.

That "small world" moment came when I discovered that Alexander's commander was General Thomas "the Fighting Gamecock" Sumter...and the place of my birth is named for Gen. Sumter. My high school, named in honor of him as well, was known as the "Home of the Fighting Gamecocks".

Kinda cool to realize that Alexander and I both shared a connection with Gen. Sumter.

So back to work I go. But to me, this isn't work. Oh it is to some of my friends...like Susan and Mapstew who've both offered to help from their side of the pond. That kind of aid is worth more than gold to me. No. Really. And I'll be calling on Shug again, as my unofficial historian, since it appears those relatives might turn out to be Scotch-Irish originally.

Yesterday I felt as victorious as Alexander must've felt to enjoy a true freedom. For you see, on his side of the family I've actually tracked from me all the way back TEN generations.

Yeah, I know. I'm easily entertained.

6 comments:

Susan said...

How cool is that, Sumter himself? Your ancestor would make a great novel character with all those adventures--and he had some wife. Very brave.

How did you find out what battles he fought in?

mapstew said...

Now you're getting ME interested in MY famiy tree. You really are having a great time with this.

mapstew said...

Just put my specs on - that should read 'family' !

hope said...

Susan, I was truly impressed by his wife, who was smart enough to hide him from revenge while nursing him back to health. I swear if I'd had a little girl I would've named her Jennett.

As for the battles, as more and more people are interested in Genealogy, more and more lists are going on line by historical societies and the like. It's easy to get discouraged but once I get an idea in my head, stand back. :) I kept stumbling on bits and pieces of this story for the past year. This week I finally found the name of the book the story came from and then found the actual story on-line in someone else's family tree. It was funny because they weren't kin to Alexander but listed their relative as "neighbor of American Patriot Alexander Faires". :)

Mapstew...and you're in the BEST place on earth for doing so! That's when I get most frustrated..trying to track down records to your side of the world. Used ancestry.com for exactly one year [because I got it for a bargain!] and after 6 months kept hitting the wall of, "Yes, we have that record. And to read it, you need to subscribe to the International version". Sadly, can't afford to spend over $300 a year looking a lists of names.

But hey, if any of your folks ran over here, let me know and I'll see what I can do. :)

I tell everyone to first start with myheritage.com because it searches over 1100 websites for a trace of the name you type in. Some wild goose chases, some incorrect info but it doesn't take long to figure out what's right.

Thanks for the encouragement folks!

debra said...

I'm here via Kim :-) It's cool when you find out stuff about your family isn't it. We've discovered that our house was built by a Scotsman who was born in 1797! Pretty neat stuff.

hope said...

Welcome debra! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who enjoys knowing the history of something. I live in a 125 year old farm house...obviously I appreciate well preserved things. :)

Off to visit your site.