Total Pageviews

Friday, March 30, 2012

Entwined Roots

Do you remember the country or folk song, “I’m My Own Grandpa”?[i]    Sometimes, that’s the way I feel, except, I would be “my own grandma!”
It’s amazing how family roots intermingle and entwine.  The more I delve into family histories, the more aware I become of the interrelatedness of family members.  In this post, I would like to share some of the experiences I have had with entwined roots.
My dear 4th cousin, Joanne, whom I met on-line a couple of years ago and met in person a few months ago, and I have recently discovered how entangled our relationship is.  We are 4th cousins in the West family sharing our closest common grandparents, John Balus West and Mary Ann Swanson, our 3rd great grandparents.  Their son Franklin West was Joanne’s 2nd great grandfather, and their son Alexander Balus West was my 2nd great grandfather. 
Not only are we 4th cousins in this family, but we are also 4th cousins 1X removed in the Ferguson family.  Richard Ferguson and Verlinda Triplett were my 4th great grandparents and Joanne’s 3rd great grandparents.  In this Ferguson-Triplett family, I descend from their daughter, Eleanor “Nellie” Ferguson, and her husband, Larkin McNeil.  Joanne descends from their son, Jeremiah Ferguson, and his wife Polly Louisa McGee.  Since we do not share a set of grandparents in the same generation, we are 4th cousins 1X removed in this family.
Joanne also has a connection to my Barlow family.  Henry Harrison Barlow, my 2nd great uncle from my Barlow ancestors, married Joanne’s great aunt, Amanda Ferguson, sister of Joanne’s great grandmother, Eliza Ferguson.  Eliza and Amanda were my 1st cousins 4X removed!    According to Joanne, Henry Harrison Barlow and Nancy Amanda Ferguson had one child, Thomas Leroy Barlow.  Thomas Leroy Barlow was my 1st cousin 3X removed and Joanne’s 1st cousin 2X removed.  And there’s more!  After Henry Harrison Barlow died from wounds he received in the Civil War, Nancy Amanda Ferguson Barlow married Smith Ferguson Walker, the brother of Joanne’s great grandfather, George Washington Walker.   Furthermore, George Hayes Walker, the son of George Washington Walker and Eliza Ferguson, were the grandparents of my 4th cousin Joanne.  Joanne’s grandmother, Dicia Albertha “Bertha” West, who married George Hayes Walker, was my 2nd cousin 2X removed.  Quite a maze of entangled roots!
Are Joanne and I double cousins of some sort?  I’m sure there are more entanglements in this web, but, right now, my mind just cannot wrap around them and neither can my computer program!  My overworked Family Tree Maker program is thoroughly stressed! 
Joanne is exploring the possibility that she may be related to the Land family, the family of my 2nd great grandmother, Nancy Land.  I wonder where this next step will take us as we explore our interrelatedness.  Joanne so aptly described this interrelatedness when she wrote, “We are just like kudzu there in Beaver Creek--intertwined in all directions.”
Are you confused?  So am I!
How did this interrelatedness occur?  My only explanation at this time is that these families lived in a close, tight-knit community, relatively isolated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Therefore, they grew up together, attended the same school and the same churches, courted each other, and subsequently married each other.  Marriages between 2nd and 3rd cousins were not uncommon.  As I research my other families, the Hugheses, Honeycutts, Hoilmans, and Canipes of Yancey and Mitchell counties in North Carolina, I see some of the same “entanglements.” 
Joanne, do you think we can write our own song!

[i] Read more about “I’m My Own Grandpa” at'm_My_Own_Grandpa

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Follow by E-Mail

I do understand how intimidating it is to reply publicly in a blog.  Therefore, I have taken advantage of a newly incorporated “gadget” which provides my readers with the option of contacting me through e-mail.  If you would like to comment privately, please use the link, “Follow by Email,” just under “Followers” at the bottom of the right column.  Click on “Submit” and send me an e-mail. If you do not already have a free Google account, you will need to establish one in order to e-mail me.  When I receive your e-mail, I will reply to you in a private e-mail.  Neither of these e-mails will appear in the blog.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sarah Hawkins: Whose Wife Really Was She?

Even though I addressed in my last blog post, "In Pursuit of Edy," the fact that Sarah Hawkins was not the spouse of my Alexander West I, I perceive a need to write an additional post in order to clear up the misconceptions surrounding her.
The Sarah Hawkins, in question, was probably born in 1773 and died in 1839.  Many on-line family trees provide her name as the spouse of Alexander West I and the mother of his children. 
My Alexander West I was born between 1720 and 1730 and died possibly after 1790 but before 1800. He is recorded in family lore as being “a pioneer settler of western Wilkes County,” and “the deep taproot for many families still living in Wilkes, Caldwell, and Watauga counties as well as across the nation, [including] such families as Wests, Barnetts, Smiths, Holders, Hartleys, Swansons, Presnells, McCrarys, Allens, Paynes, Hendrixes, Armeses, Crumps, Craigs, Murrys, [and] Bells.”[i]
He lived in the North Carolina counties of Orange, Surry, Wilkes, and Burke and was the father of at least two sons and some daughters.  One son, Alexander West II (1751 Orange County, NC-1834 Burke County, NC) married Hannah Langley.  Another son, John West (abt 1760 Orange County, NC-bef 1810 South Carolina) married Margaret “Peggy” Witherspoon.  Edith “Edy” West (abt 1772 North Carolina-1855 Benton, Alabama), who was likely his daughter, married Archibald Fowler.  Some researchers believe that another daughter, known only as “Miss” West, married a neighbor, Bray Crisp.
When one considers the dates, one can easily recognize that the above-mentioned Sarah Hawkins was born 22 years after the birth of Alexander West II, 13 years after the birth of John West, and 14 years after the birth of Edith “Edy” West.  Therefore, she could not have been the wife of Alexander West I and mother of these children.
But for those who believe that Sarah Hawkins married Alexander West, don’t despair!
Sarah Hawkins DID marry an Alexander West, BUT he was the son of Solomon West (1726-1830) and Isabella Boyd (1735-1785).  This Alexander West was born in 1776 and died in 1860.  He married Sarah Hawkins in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1795.  Sarah Hawkins would have been 22 years old, and this Alexander West would have been 19 years old at the time of their marriage.
Even though both lived during the same period in history in Western North Carolina, definitive documentation and genetic testing do not establish a familial relationship as brothers or other relations between Solomon West and Alexander West I.  However, as I have stated in previous posts, the name “Alexander” is perpetuated among the descendants of both of these men.  This perpetuation of the name indicates that one of the ancestors, a father, a grandfather, or an uncle, must have been named Alexander.
At this time, the wife of Alexander West I is not known.
I do understand how confusing it is to determine who each of the many Alexander Wests were.  I, also, understand how easy it is to assume that Sarah Hawkins was the spouse of Alexander West I.  As new information becomes available to us, we, as conscientious researchers, will find it necessary to make changes in our information, however difficult that may be for some of us.  Otherwise, we will perpetuate inaccurate data.


[i] West, John Foster. “History of West Family Is Given,” The Journal-Patriot North Wilkesboro, N.C., Nov. 8, 1976.