Monday, September 08, 2008

Shakin' That Family Tree

Last night I did something I never expected I'd do. No, I did not call up John McCain and tell him that if he wins, I'm going to stop paying taxes and give all that money to the family of an Iraq war veteran instead. But, that's tempting, that, and reminding Sarah Palin that the world is not flat, nor did the founding fathers have anything to do with the Pledge of Allegiance....

Ah, but I digress.

Anyway, last night I wrote to a distant living relative I've never met, because he and I are related through one of my great great grandmothers. I'm finding more and more that the further back I go, ironically on my mother's side, there is quite a collection of living folks doing the same type of digging. It's kind of neat.

When I got started with earlier this summer, I guess I never imagined it would lead to meeting actual living people, but of course other people out there are curious about the same things. I have to admit it was a little disconcerting at first to set up a search for one of my ancestors on a random shot and see her pop up on someone else's family tree. Of course, many branches from a few roots, right?

My great great grandmother, Mary Budd, wed Charles Johnson sometime before the War Between the States. Their kids included my great grandmother, Isabel Johnson, and her brothers and sisters (my great aunt Tune's real name was Unity, a popular post-War name for obvious reasons). Mary's ancestors turn out to be stalwart nonconformists -- one of her ancestors took the Quaker oath and died in prison for it. Isabel married Thomas Williams, my great grandfather, a good old-fashioned Republican who ran for public office in Martins Ferry, Ohio. There was a time when I figured that's where the story started. But in fact I've been digging up all kinds of nuggets that take the story wayyyy back and across the pond.

We're just getting started on this little odyssey. It's an interesting task, and one that shouldn't have waited until after my mother was dead. I can count three, possibly four living relatives I know personally on my mother's side; I'm not even sure if they're all still alive.

I'm also not sure what I'll find, on either side. What all else do I have coursing through these veins besides a little hutzpah and a love of baked goods? That's kind of the fun, and the mystery, of family history.

Family History
Tim O'Brien, from Traveler


At September 10, 2008 10:16 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

Tune. I like that name. Unity is nice too but I can see how it led to the nickname.

At September 10, 2008 3:57 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

And I just tagged you. :-)


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