I am pleased to know something of my genealogy, my... 'family tree'. This knowledge is in sharp contrast to what I knew when I started a limited quest back in 1975. Following the death of my mother, I asked my father questions about his family hoping to get a grip on his side of my ancestry.
Unfortunately, if you look up the phrase 'close-mouthed about family matters', one of the first images is a photo of my father, Leon David Kleylein b. June 29, 1903, d. Dec. 29, 1992.
I didn't discover until years later the really good reasons he had for being so reticent, but that was no help getting me started at all. For example, I didn't even know my own grandmother's maiden name until the discovery of a marriage record in the Maryland State Archives twenty years later.
My daughter, Leah, was poking at me for information about my family and I literally had nothing to offer but about twenty names of relatives. I guess we could have turned to the Internet, but there were only about 10,000 primitive websites and newsgroups (remember newsgroups?) in 1994. It is estimated that in 2012, the number of websites will reach 582 million. Several of them will be about genealogy. (!)
So, instead, in those dark ages, we launched a succession of trips to the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis and the National Archives in Washington DC. Microfilm became a close friend. And so it came to be that on December 29, 1994, it was determined by means of a marriage record that my paternal grandmother's maiden name was Harrison.
Now, it is seventeen years later and I have 11,148 names in my family file with 7,467 of them connected to my grandmother Hallie Violet Harrison.
Hallie was born Oct. 9, 1886 in Mt. Airy, Carroll Co., Maryland and died Sept. 9, 1971 in Miami, Dade Co., Florida. As research went on, it became clear that she is related to nearly everyone in Maryland. It's a very close-knit state. Apparently once you move there, you often stay.
In the case of my Harrison connection, it's been nearly 400 years in the new world. Hallie's mother (my great grandmother) was Sarah C. Watkins. Sarah was a direct descendant of James Watkins who sailed with John Smith.
Yes, that John Smith of Pocahontas fame, the John Smith who founded Jamestown in 1607, a full thirteen years before those latecomers finally got to Massachusetts on the Mayflower. I picture my ancestors waving to them from the shore.
Well, Smith and my tenth great grandfather James also sailed up the Chesapeake into the Maryland area. Watkins Point on the Chesapeake is named for my ancestor.
Just a few years ago, we could have celebrated our... whaddayacallit... quadricentennial? Don't forget, the King James Bible hadn't even been published at that point, it was a long fricking time ago!
There's no documentation that James Watkins, my ancestor, had any interaction with Pocahontas. This isn't an actual photograph of her, by the way. I can tell you with a fair degree of certainty that if she DID look like this, history would have gone in a markedly different direction.
Which leads us to what I will never have in the genealogy world.
Not that I don't have lots of connections to the American Revolution. The Harrison ancestors arrived soon after the Watkins ancestors along with Lewis, Moxley, Carter, Fitzgerald, Randolph, Saffell, Waugh, Becraft, Norwood, Holland, Shipley, Stevens, Lucas, Chamberlaine, Landon, Burwell, Smith, Ludlow, Isham, Beverley, Peyton, Gassaway, Lamb, Tydings, Green, Beall, Hungerford, Howard and more.
Two of my direct ancestors, Kinsey Harrison and Jeremiah J. Lewis were soldiers during the war. Two other directs, Jeremiah Watkins and William Shipley took the Oath of Fidelity. And one direct ancestor, Nehemiah Moxley Sr. has a very special place.
Everyone is taught
This seems to me a bit more direct and confrontational than some wimpy costume party with folks dressed up like Pocahontas, but what do I know? I wasn't there.
So, sure, I can be a Son of the American Revolution many times over but that doesn't really have the cach