Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Century Old Mystery

First, I am so sorry I have been absent for so long. With having to recite Proverbs in order for David to write out his sentences, his suspension and spring break along with other stuff I have had very little time to read or write blogs. Also slowing me down is lack of sleep due to seasonal allergies and the meds that help me make it through the day without sneezing my head off.

During one of the middle of the night can't-breathe-or-think nights I did a quick search on Imagine my surprise when I solved a century old mystery!
When I began my family research before David was born my great uncle Russ wrote me a letter explaining that his father Stephen was born in 1888 and gave me the names of his parents, but that was all that was known about that side of the family.

Reading a Letter
Stephen's parents split and his mother took him to live with her father. His mother then went to another state, married and started another family. That was the last that any of us heard from Stephen's mother or father. It is quite a sad tale.

My search pulled up two family trees. One was a tree I have seen before through Stephen's wife and found it very faulty since there are no sources cited and there are many errors. One such error is a man that died in 1862 and the next life event listed for him shows his baptism in 1979. I certainly hope that he was not exhumed in order to baptize him.

The second record solved not only my own mystery but also the mystery for another person. In 1968, Stephen's father's daughter-in-law wrote a letter. This letter interviewed a minister that knew the father well and the family history. Stephen's father had four families—the first two marriages ended when the wives died and were laid to rest next to each other. The third marriage was to Stephen's mother and a quote from the statement caught my interest:

The third time Isaac married Ollie from Appalachia, VA. She loved horseback riding and took no interest in housekeeping, nor in rearing the children of the former wives. He was a man of great farming interests and logging—delivered the logs down the Clinch River into Chattanooga, TN. Therefore, when their only child, Stephen, was very small he was sent back to her parents' home in Wise County, VA. No communication was made between her and the Williams family ever again. They never knew the son she reared.

Stephen's father would then go on to marry happily again.

I immediately wrote to the other family tree holder. His mother would have been my grandfather's cousin. She is in her 80s and she can't wait to meet us. She had given up hope of ever finding out what happened to Stephen and his family. I am glad that I could answer her questions.

In another quirk of fate, Stephen worked in a coal mine that they also had other family members work at over time. They had just been to that exact coal mine last month on a research trip.


rita said...

Isn't this digging up dead relatives fun? Ray and I have been done some more lately and found some new databases to explore. We both have a couple of mysteries we'd love to solve. That is where the real thrill is.
I enjoy reading about your family as well. The stories of real people are always more interesting to me than any fiction.

Kim said...

Rita- I hope you have as much fun as I have. Just watch out on the databases, some are not as accurate as they should be.
I am amazed at how much more complicated their lives were back then. You always hear about how simple life was back then- yes more work but still a better time. I have found that it wasn't a better time for my family in the early days of America. It really gives me a deeper respect for those that came before us.