Yes, another genealogy blog, and a good question to ask: why another of them when there’s already a plethora of genealogy sites online? I’m starting Begats and Bequeathals: A Southern U.S. Family Documented for a number of reasons. First, I’ve been researching my family history for over 40 years, and have accumulated a wealth of information and documents that I’d like to make freely available online. So much junk genealogy is proliferating rapidly due to the mixed blessing of the internet, that I feel all the more obliged to share my information and documents to combat the widespread disinformation I see about branches of my family everywhere online.
Second, I want to share my information and documents on a blog site because I think that sharing in this way will give me more leeway to document extensively and explain carefully than many family-tree-type sites permit. Blogging also provides avenues for others who may happen on what I post here to provide feedback, offer corrections, and fill in lacunae. The blogging-with-combox venue allows people to make more substantive comments – and start more meaningful dialogues – about genealogical matters than the limited space provided in “leave a correction” slots on family trees at other sites allows.
As the preceding remarks indicate, I’m hoping, too, that as I share my years of research and the documents I’ve accumulated, I’ll meet others working on the same family lines or with families in the same geographical areas. As the subtitle of this blog indicates, my family is a Southern U.S. one, a “typical” Southern one. With one grandparent born in Alabama, one in Arkansas, and two in Louisiana, I have roots running back to English settlers of colonial Virginia and Maryland in the 17th century, for the most part – families that moved on into the Carolinas and then to the states of the old Southwest after they had initially set down roots in Virginia and Maryland.
Like many “typical” Southern U.S. families, I also have a sprinkling of ancestral lines that came to the middle colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, English, Welsh, and Scottish Quakers and Ulster Scots Presbyterian families who migrated down into western Virginia in the 18th century, and fanned out from there to places like the Carolina backcountry, Tennessee, and Kentucky. I have only one 19th-century immigrant family line: my mother’s maternal grandmother was born in Ireland and came with her parents as a very young girl to New Orleans, and then to Mississippi and Arkansas. Another of my Ulster Scots family lines, the Dinsmores, came directly from Ireland to South Carolina in the mid-1700s, and will be the first family I discuss here.
Finally, I’m starting this blog to share what I’ve learned about my family lines in the hope that this sharing will benefit other. I feel it incumbent on me to share information that has, in so very many cases, come to me by the free gift of others. One of the most gratifying experiences I have had in my nearly half-century of work on my family tree has been to meet and correspond with many wonderful people in many places, people who have given so much to me by way of documents, old family letters and photos and scrapbooks, etc. I now want to give back.
I don’t intend to follow any logical pattern at all in sharing information here, as I skip about randomly from this family line to that one. If there will be any method to the madness, it’s that I’ll probably focus initially on the families on which I’ve worked most extensively, have accumulated the most solid documentation, and have already written share-worthy essays or mini-essays. I suspect I’ll save the problem lines for last, as I post material here, and that, when I do share information about some of those hair-tearing lines, I’ll also be begging readers to help me figure them out.
Here’s a list of some of the family names – direct ancestral lines of mine — you may see me mentioning in postings here: Ballentine, Batchelor, Beaumont/Beamon, Bennett, Bigg/Biggs, Birdwell, Bland, Braselton, Brooke, Brooks, Bryson, Butler, Calhoun, Carr, Carrington, Cherry, Christmas, Dent, Dinsmore, Dorsey, Gainer, Garrett, Garton, Godwin, Graves, Green, Hale, Hardy, Harris, Harrison, Hatton, Hodgkins, Holland, Holmes, Horton, James, Job(e), Jordan, Kerr, Lane, Lauderdale, Leonard, Lindsey, Manning, Mauldin, Maund, McKay, Monk, Nottingham, Oates, Odle/Odell/Oldale, Odom, Pearce/Peirce, Petty, Philips/Phillips, Pickens, Posey, Pryor, Ryan, Simpson, Sims/Simms, Snead, Stone, Strachan, Tatom/Tatum, Thomson, Tobin, Vernon, Whitlock, Wynne/Winn, Yates.
“‘We’re a very cousiny people,’ Mary Harty told me. ‘One must tread very lightly here: Everyone is kin to everyone else.'” ~ John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (NY: Random House, 1994), p. 36.