Friday, March 30, 2012
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!