Minerva Ardella TERRY was born 9 Sept 1880 in Barry Co., Mo and died 15 Aug 1898 in Barry Co., Mo.  She was the 13th child of  John King TERRY (1838-1918, Civil War Veteran) in Barry Co., Mo  and wife Mary Ann RIDDLE (1838-1923). She and her brother, Granville E. Terry (1877-1898) who died in the same accident, are buried in Row 9, south side of the Arnhart Cemetery. Nearby are her parents.

One version of the story is that she went out on a moto bike built by a brother or other relative and died in an accident.  The motocycle was a new concept and in 1898 had only been around a few years.   Read more about early motorcycle here.

A search of Missouri online death certificates has not located one for Minerva.  A brief search of newspapers was made but no death notice located.  Find-A-Grave lists her in the Arnhart Cemetery near Purdy, Missouri. This cemetery was the last resting place for many of this Terry clan over the decades.  It is assumed she died in Barry Co., Missouri.  Anyone with help or information please contact me.
Her  grave is near her parents stone, shown here.


Cabbage Patch People

Inserting data into Ancestry nearly a year ago, I had great hopes on making connections on some lines that had been persistent dead ends.  I have watched leaves bloom over numerous lines....but  never those particular lines.  Out of all of the millions of bits of records represented by that particular database I am disppointed.  I fear that those lines may have been reinventing themselves...and the reason they have no links is that they did not exist until they took that name or assumed that identity. Many did this. People starting new lives in a new land or region; people escaping from a negative past; escaping from mistakes, repercussions, or just desserts or people just waking up one day and realizing they could become someone else and that person might be luckier in business or love.   They are the 'Cabbage Patch' people: they merely appeared one day without benefit of parents or other ancestors.


Sometimes the best place to be is held securely in grandpa's strong and loving arms. 




THOMAS B. FARLEY (HENRY6, THOMAS5, FRANCIS4, JOHN B.3, JOHN B.2, THOMAS1) was born 1792 in Montgomery Co., Virginia, and died 1832 in Logan County, Virginia. He married MARGARET FERGUSON 1816 in Cabell County, Virginia, daughter of SAMUEL FERGUSON and LUCY STOKES.


i. ANDREW "JACKSON"8 FARLEY, b. 1818, Tug Fork Of Sandy River , Virginia; d. April 11, 1908, Laytonville, CA; m. CAROLINA STOKES, October 23, 1845, Andrew Co., Missouri.

494. ii. ANDERSON "ANCE" FARLEY, b. 1822, Cabell County, Virginia; d. July 27, 1872, Napa, Napa, CA.

iii. SARAH ANN "SALLY" FARLEY, b. 1826, Cabell County, Virginia; d. Aft. 1900, Iowa; m. (1) Ashbel Van SCYOC, 1845, Andrew Co., Missouri; m. (2) ABRAHAM FLETCHER, September 05, 1860, Fermont County, IA.

iv. EMELINE FARLEY, b. 1827, Cabell County, Virginia; d. Aft. 1900, California; m. SIMEON LOVELAND, October 16, 1845, Atchinson Co., MO.

v. IRA FARLEY, b. Abt. 1830, Clark County, Illinois; d. 1848, Napa City, California.

vi. JAMES FARLEY, b. January 01, 1832, Clark County, Illinois; d. January 29, 1903, Laytonville, CA; m. NANCY ANN DAVIS, March 25, 1851, Andrew Co., Missouri.


Jackson Farley
Serial killer? Indian fighter? Pioneering hero?  Or, the 'boastful'  ramblings of an old, demented man?  The trail to finding a family history for one of my husband's lines had been a blank empty canvas for many years - decades even.  So many secrets, so many things no one ever shared and things some probably wanted to forget.  Finding information led to finding the relations of one distant wife and there the jack jumped out the box.  Her brother was said to be 'Jackson' or 'Andrew Jackson' Farley, born in Virginia ca 1804.

He was said to have traveled west with the Donner party but parted company from them when they made their fateful decision to go another path.  He made it into Long Valley, California ca 1857 and Farley, California is said to have been named for him. In 1859 a climax to ongoing stresses between native populations and the pioneers erupted into the "Mendocino War" or "Mendocino Massacre." The story is confusing with many witnesses only emerging decades later, some stories never collected, and many questions never answered.  In the late 1800's a San Francisco paper carried a photo of an old, old man with may weapons and shared the story he had killed more Indians than anyone and that his house was filled with chairs, lamps, and other items made from human skin - the skin of Natives killed.  Local lore seemed to support the aged man's boastful tales.

Jackson Farley was thought to be the son of Thomas Farley and Margaret Ferguson of Virginia.  He was born in 1804 and died in California in 1904.  Just as the life and travels of his sister, Sarah had been mysterious, so apparently was the life of her brother.  Her first husband, Asbel Van Scyoc, disappears between 1856 and 1860. In 1860 she marries another man in her Iowa town.  Had her husband traveled with her brother to California?  One family had the story the family going west was attacked and one family member was killed.  One story claimed Jackson's family was killed was this a trigger for his hatred?  One also has to remember it was a different time then, views were far different than more modern beliefs of what was right.   It was a time that said through its policies, laws, and actions that Blacks, Indians, and Women were merely child-like to downright sub-human. No excuses merely the reality of historic research; one cannot apply modern sensibilities or mores to another time, place, or culture.  We can only seek to understand and find ways of insuring society moves forward past such cruel and blind treatment of other people because of different ways, color, or beliefs.

Some have labeled him a 'Hannibal Lector', ' Hitler', or 'Indian Hater'.   He was a product of his time and culture just as Nero was a product of his. We cannot pick and choose who is in our family tree; we can only decide to use the lessons learned to insure future generations can see we became who we are sometimes not because of who are ancestors were, but in spite of who they were or what they did.

May all of them - victims and perpetrators - rest in peace knowing we have done better than they.

WOMEN'S GROUP, ca 1977, Touring Eureka Springs, Arkansas

A Minister's Wives Fellowship of the West Oklahoma Conference of the Pentecostal Holiness Church.

"Step Into the Water", 1970's River Baptism, King's River, Arkansas (Berryville)


Elaborate or simple, elegant or rustic, large or small, the porch at Grandma's is a special place.  Summer mornings in the cool shade, as bees lazily dance around the Rose of Sharon or the Tiger Lilies or the climbing roses...Shelter when the rain comes down soft and gentle....a place to sit and listen to stories or  dance on tiptoes before a loving audience.



Here is the blog author with her father. His only daughter she was obviously delighted to be in her father's arms at age 1.


Born in eastern Tennessee, Polly (whose name may have been Mary since the nickname Polly was often given to girls named Mary), married in Livingston, KY Joseph Reed.   Both the King and Reed names are associated with early Methodist and Cumberland Presbyterian evangelists-ministers  in the regions of KY, TN, MO, ARK, TX before 1850.  There may be some connections to these families based on travels and naming used in the families. The family ended up in Red River Co., Tx with the family of one of the daughters, Lucinda King Reed Terry.

I was especially interested when this photo arrived, because I finally could link my downward curving mouth to an ancestor!


James Wesley Ennis was the son of Elisha Ennis and Matilda Terry.  Elisha is thought to be the son of Zachariah Ennis and Matilda was the daughter of William Terry and Barbara Ennis Terry.  Zachariah is thought to be Barbara's brother or uncle.  "J.W." was a minister with the M.P. (Methodist Protestant Church) and served in Barry County, Missouri for many years.
Thanks to the cousin for sending the photo.


Nancy Jane Terry Harp

Nancy was the daughter of William and Barbara Ennis Terry. She was born 1819 in Gibson Co., Ind. She married William T. Harp (his second wife) in 1838 in Madison Co., Ark.
Her siblings include: William, Martin, Melinda, John, Matilda, Easter (Hettie), Mary Elizabeth, and Serena.
Her children include: John, William, Hester, Martin, Mary Ellen, Winnie, Sarah, Carlton, Angeline, Elmina.
She died about 1881 in Cedarville, Kansas.


Mary Ann Riddle Terry, Barry County, MO

Daughter of James Riddle and Rhoda King Riddle. Mary Ann Riddle married John King Terry. John K. Terry was the son of Martin Terry and Mary Ann Reed (d/of Joseph Reed and Mary 'Polly King), but unproven, that the Reed and Riddle lines may have intersected earlier to share a common King ancestor in Tennessee, Kentucky or North Carolina.


Melvin Daniel Priest ca 1933

Shown here with his mother Velma Cochren Priest. His father was Melvin Marion Priest. The setting is thought to be Kansas where the family had gone on a visit but could also be in Barry Co., Missouri where the family was living.
Melvin would grow up to become a professional welder (doing high rise work), a professional motorcycle racer (winning over 200 trophies), and taught himself to paint. He designed a unique jack element for trailers and manufactured them himself for a time before he sold the design to another company.



Melvin Marion Priest and on the right his airplane.
Inside are his first wife, Velma and his daughter, Helen (ca. 1948).

Priest was born in Barry Co., Mo and died in an air crash in Oklahoma.
He was the son of Charles and Sena Boyd Priest of Barry Co., Mo. Velma was the daughter of George and Annie Brown Cochren of Plevna, Ks.



Ada Terry Norwood, 'halfpint', daughter of Wesley Sartin Terry and Edna Maggie Boyd Terry. Barry Co., Mo.

Wellington, Kansas Family Group

Left to right: Roy D. Terry, Melvin Daniel Priest, Shirley Priest, Lou Priest, Marilyn A. Terry. Children are : Michael and Marty Priest.

Family of Daniel Thomas Mortimore

Daniel Thomas Mortimore

Daniel Thomas Mortimore , son of Alfred Mortimore.

Fenton Girl - 2

Sister of Louisa, same source, identified as Emma Fenton.


Identified as Louisa Fenton, originak was in the family of Patsy Alice Mortimore Sherod of Kingfisher, Ok. The Fentons were her mother's family. Eliza Jane Mortimore married John Henry Fenton.



"My grandfather was born in Tennessee," recalled Velma Dora Cochren Terry, "was part Cherokee Indian. When he came to Kansas, he came in a covered wagon, Indians were living all through the prairie states, buffalo roamed everywhere at this time. He settled in Sylvia, Ks and lived in or around there until he died. He was cJustify Fullrippled since he was in his late teens, kicked by a horse, walked with a cane for years. He could drink coffee as hot as anyone could make it. He was an impatient and gruff person, all us grandchildren were a littleafaid of him. " Her sister, Elva Cochren Merry, remembered, "He loved soda crackers, he would fill a plate and have a cup of coffee or hot tea. That was a snack for him. He was pretty grumpy, maybe from pain in his leg from an early injury, but once some of the children and grandchildren were playing and running around through the house. He told them to stop their noise and foolry. They did not listen and the next circuit they made through the house and his chair, he just set his cane out and tripped the first ones. They listened after that!"


Velma Dora Cochren Terry remembered her father with very fond memories:

"My father moved to Plevna with his family around 1919. First worked in harvest fields, then was a track walker for Santa Fe Railroad for a short period, and then became janitor for Plevna Public School, and remained so until his death. When I attended school, daddy was always janitor, when weather was bad, he would fix our lunch in the cooking room in school (hot dogs with sandwich spread and drinks). Boy! We liked that. We always watched for him to ring the school bell. He walked home with us for lunch every day the weather was good. Daddy never owned a car, but he made us a comfortable and happy home.

He played violin and piano. He bought us a player piano when I was in my early teens. He would play and we would all sing.

He told us of when he first came to Plevna as a boy, there were buffalo roaming all over the plain. The first thing I can remember was going swimming, with me on his back. I was about 2 ½ years old, my mother said, but I can remember it clearly.

When pay day came, once a month, Daddy always bought a cigar and a big sack of candy. When we would smell the cigar smoke, we knew it was candy time. Daddy was a good moral man. He lived like a gentleman and set a good example for us. He was a positive man about manners. Was not a Christian until on his death bed 2 days before his death, he himself told me he had made his peace with God.

He (father) lived to only to see one grandchild, when Melvin Daniel Priest was one month old, he died. He and mother were very happy together. We were really poor, but didn’t know it, because we were happy, and never went hungry or ragged. "

Ruhama Isadora Fenton (1858-1929)

Her granddaughter, Velma Dora Cochren Priest Terry, recalled: Ruhama Isadora Fenton Brown - "She was my grandmother, on Mother’s side. A very tiny little lady, the first real Christian I came in contact with. She belonged to the Church of Christ, was a firm believer in God and left her Christian testimony whatever she went. The first church, I ever attended was with her. We stayed with her every summer for a week. She made the best tomato soup I ever tasted (note: see recipe on this blog). I never saw her mad; the most patient of people. She died when I was 14."

Ruhama went by the diminutive, Dora and Velma was named for her. "Ruhama" is a name derived from the book of Hosea in the Bible and it means "mercy."

Hutchinson , or Sylvia, KS newspaper ca April 20, 1929 (exact date of clipping unknown):

Ruhama Issadora Fenton was born September 11, 1858, and departed this life April 20th, 1929, age 70 years, 7 months and 9 days.

She was married to B.F. Brown, Nov. 10, 1880. To this union were born six children two of whom died in infancy, and one son, Frank , departed this life December 17, 1917. Those left to mourn her loss are her husband, B.F. Brown, Sylvia, Kans; one son, J.D. Brown, Ottawa, Kans.; two daughters, Mrs. Annie Cochren of Plevna, Kans.; and Mrs. Ethel Buggeln of Sylvia, Kans; also fourteen grandchildren and six brothers and one sister. Mrs. Elsie Brown, a sister, of Mountain Home, Idaho; R.W. Fenton and P.M. Fenton of Dodge City, Kans.; F.E. Fenton of Sublette, Kans.; E.E. Fenton of Hutchinson, Kans.; W.M. Fenton of Ottawa, Kans.; and L.E. Fenton of Lebo, Kans.

Sister Brown was baptized about 1884. She has been a member of the Church of Christ of Sylvia for the past eight years. She lived a faithful, consistent Christian life. Faithful to her God and a loving wife and mother. Her influence was ever for the right.

The funeral services were held from the Church of Christ Monday afternoon and were conducted by Rev. Thornhill of Hutchinson. Interment was made in the I.O.O.F Cemetery."

Velma also recalled how the funeral brought in wooden folding chairs, distributed hand fans, and a wonderful accapella mens quartest sang. The air was filled with aroma of floral tributes.



Anyone who has done family history knows how hard it can be to iron out parentage. With P.P. Brown (aka Ptolemy, Ptolema, Delphus, and P.P. Brown) had three wives and for many years it was unclear who was the parent of which children. Different lines had different theories. Once it was learned he had served in the Civil War a copy of a pension record was requested from the National Archives. A satisfyingly thick set of papers resulted. Inside was a listing of just who the mother of his children had been. There birth, death, and marriage dates. There was also a list of children's names verifying the accuracy of numerous family trees. He filed the papers in March 1898.


In 1889 a man wrote to Ptolemy Philadelphius Brown inquiring about his service in the Civil War. He belonged to Co. L, First Regiment Ark Cav Vol. "I stayed in the Boston Mountains as a spy for Willhite and Gillstraps. I concealed and fed union men who were running from the conscript law. I piloted men through the mountains so they could get to the union Army. I lay in the brush with and fed strangers but they were true. At last a friend came and told me that on old Soldier had the hemp for Brown to pull. But I didn't pull it..."
He filed a pension in 1890 and died in the Old Solder's Home in Missouri.

BARRY COUNTY BOY: Roy Dennis Terry (1910-1987)

An Interview with Roy Dennis Terry (1910-1987) recorded ca. 1983 while visiting with his son Dennis Terry in Wellington, Kansas. Roy was the child of Wesley Sartin Terry and his wife Edna Maggie Boyd Terry. Roy worked for over 3o years for Boeing Aircraft of Wichita and helped construct two of the first "Air Force One' craft. In his spare time he raised and competed pedigree Beagles through his kennel, Slate Creek.

“I was born near Butterfield, Missouri on a little 40 acre farm a mile and a half northeast of town, in a one room log cabin and lived there until I was five . They then (my parents) built a new house. It was not a log cabin but was made of pinewood. It was on the same forty acres only in a different location than the log house.

When I was three years old, mom, Edith, my baby sister, and me were at the house when the house caught fire on the roof. Mom told me to go down to the cornfield (about a half a quarter [mile] from the house) and call dad. I ran down there and just calmly told dad ‘there’s a big blaze on the house”. Dad dropped everything and run to the house and put out the fire.

I remember when I was just three years, before we moved from the log cabin, we had a horse that got tangled up in some barbed wire and cut itself and bled to death. It must have made a big impression on me for I can’t remember the horse at all. Also, Dad had gathered the popcorn in this box on the sled with a box on it that he hauled things in and pulled by a horse. Dad gathered the popcorn in this box on the sled. I seen this popcorn and thought it was the most popcorn I ever saw in my life, of course it was a lot of corn. We always had a lot of popcorn balls, and made sorghum candy called taffy at taffy pulling times. This was the land of treats we had.

When I was about three Mom always milked the cow. My job was to go out when she milked and watch Edith who was about a year and a half old and sat on a pallet on the ground. She reached over on the ground and found some dried cow chips and started to eat it, so I helped her find some more until Mom came and caught me. I don’t remember the tune she played on me but it left a big impression I won’t forget.

The fall I was five years old we moved from the log cabin to the new pine house. They had to move the stove wood in, so I went along every trip. On the way, we had to pass a yellow jacket nest and I would get stung, but by the time they were ready for the next load I was ready to go again. Got stung every trip but managed to go every time they went.

The first summer we lived in the new house dad cut down a tree in the yard, which was at the edge of the woods. He left a log laying there and Grandpa came up the road. About this time, we saw a snake by the log and it crawled right over Grandpa’s toes, he just calmly moved it over with his walking stick and went on. Don’t know where the snake went. I think it was a blue racer.

When I was seven years old my cousin Oscar TERRY was getting ready to go to the army. His dad was Kelso Terry and they lived in Rago, Kansas. He rode a motorcycle down to Missouri with his father. He had a about 30 days left. He brought me a set of dominoes and taught me how to play. I got where I could play pretty good. I kept those dominoes for years after that.

Back in those days we were all poor and about all we had was bread and flour gravy. I saved the family from starvation because we had one big old spoon that mom stirred the gravy with. Well, the oldest child, Clyde, helped stir the gravy; he was right handed. Then Pearl came along and she stirred with the spoon and was right handed. By this time the spoon was wore clear to the middle from that right side. My folks couldn't’ afford to buy another so they didn’t know what they would do. Then I came along and was left handed, so I started stirring the gravy with my left hand. So, we were in business again. I saved the family!

When I was about ten years old, they were cutting cord wood. That is wood four feet long and used to heat boilers with. They were cutting it right in front of our house and stacking it four feet each way. At that time there was a man the law was looking for and they all came out there and was looking for him where the cordwood was stacked, guess they thought he was hiding in the wood. We were real excited about all of this; we had never seen a desperado or a hunt for one. I don’t know if they ever caught him or not.

The only time I was ever really scared of the dark was when I was about twelve years old. My sister Pearl and brother Clyde and I walked down to Gunter, where they were having band practice. While we were there word came that the little town of Butterfield was on fire and the business district was burning up. So all of the older ones jumped into buggies and went to see the fire. All but me. I was left there alone. It was only one and it was only a quarter mile but seemed like ten. Every time I took a step, it sounded like there was a step behind me. And I could hear all sorts of noises like hoot owls and everything else you could imagine. This was the first time I was ever out alone at night. By the time I came to my aunts house I was scared pink. But I borrowed a lantern to go the rest of the way home.

A year or two later I was going to school, and I always took my lunch in a syrup bucket. Well, mom also kept her clabbered milk in a syrup bucket. I ran through the house and grabbed my bucket and away I went to school. About half way there I heard a noise like my lunch was splattering, so I looked at it and you guessed it, I had a bucket full of clabbered milk! I threw it over the fence and done without lunch that day. So the rest of the year they called me ‘clabber milk.’

My last year of school in Butterfield there was a kid there who was real little. One recess he didn’t come in the schoolhouse. He hid under the school and made noises pecking on the floor. The teacher sent me to see what was making the noise. I found him under the school and told him he better go on home because the teacher was looking for him. I didn’t tell her I found him. So, the boy went on home and caught it the next day from the teacher.

The first date I had, I went with Clyde to a band concert. I was to take this girl home and took her home in the buggy and in the meantime, Claude had made a date to take his girl home. When he came out to take his girl home, the buggy was gone. So I really caught it from him.

It wasn’t just that I was such a bad boy, it was just that all the things I did and thought were funny, no one else thought they were funny at all.

One time I walked up to the Bradley’s store to get some gas for my old Model “T” car. The store was closed when I was there I knocked. Had to knock several times. Finally, the door was opened and three guys were standing there with guns. Boy, those guns were big. They had heard the store was going to be robbed but of course, I didn’t know this. I was probably about eighteen then.

I was raised on cornbread and the hoe handle, and the reason I never got any bigger than I did was I got more of the hoe handle than the cornbread. The only difference between me and George Washington was he president and I never was.



Far left children Melvin Daniel Priest, Ruth "Carol" Priest (with the curly hair), and in front Helen V. Priest. The other children are Buggeln and Brown children - Darlene Buggeln Litzel, Jackie Wedup Brown, Dixie Buggeln Schoepf, and in front, on the ground with doll, Sheri Wedup. Possibly taken in Reno Co., Kansas.

Cochren Recipes

Every good wife learned the recipes of her husband's people and how to make it as good, if not better, than her mother-in-law. Here is a collection of recipes collected by Annie Brown Cochren. The originals were handwritten by Annie and the original is in the possession of her grand-daughter Helen V. Priest Calvert.

Brown Recipes

These were recipes from the Brown-Fenton family line. Ruhama Isadora Fenton Brown was said to have made a marvelous tomato soup -often with material fresh from her garden. Her "Rhubard Pudding" was said to be wonderful as well. Reno Co., Kansas.

Carl Verne Willard and Annie B. Brown Cochren

Married in Cassville, Barry Co., Mo in the middle 1930's, the Willard moved to Nebraska where Dan worked as a gandy man with the Union Pacific Rail Road. They were two gentle and kind people, much loved by all who ever knew them. They died and were buried in the Bushnell, Kimball, Nebraska cemetery. Nearby was the grandson of Annie, David Wayne Terry (1952-1952).

Grandma Always Wore An Apron

A familiar look for Annie, at least for most of her friends and grand children. When she died she had stacks of material already cut just waiting to be sewn into aprons. In Annie's home, no material ever died it just became an apron.

Annie B. Brown ca 1910-1912 (Reno Co., Ks)


"Annie B.King
Nickerson, Kans
R#2 Box 45
Dear Annie
I am going to write you a line this a.m. Got your card last night. They were fine. So you are lonesome are you. Wish I had my work all done."
Reno Co., Kansas, ca. 1910-1912.
Annie and George married in Wichita in July 1912.

George Daniel Cochren to Annie B. Brown (then King):
"I don't know if I have your address correct, or not, what days
are you going to the fair. Am going the 26th for one and may be
that the 21st I don't know yet, (it depends on the weather) As ever, your friend, George"
Reno Co., Kansas ca. 1910


Annie is shown here with her father, Burgess Franklin Brown. He was a crusty old man, so family lore tells us, who used a cane to walk and loved to snack on saltine crackers and hot tea. This was taken in Reno Co., Kansas.

One story tells how the children and cousins were all visiting - may even this event - and they were running through the house like urchins. He warned them to stop their noise and when they did not listen and were roaring through the house again, he put out his cane, tripping them, and sent them tumbling. Then, apparently, they listened and set about conducting themselves more sedately around him.


Marvin Hudson - Greek Student, the Early Years

He went on to pastor and teach Biblical languages, theology, and church leadership, earning a Doctor of Ministry from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky.

Dan Willard Family

Woman may be wife of his son Carl and granddaughter Rosetta Marie.


The man on the far right with glasses was Daniel Verne Willard (called Dan by most). May have been taken in Sublette, Kansas or Barry Co., Missouri.

Carl R. Willard and Wife ca WW2

Son of Daniel Verne Willard and Joy Wisdom.

Willard Sisters

Not a direct line but the family of my step-grandfather, Daniel Verne Willard. He was the only grandfather I ever knew. When he died, his son Carl loaded up all the household goods (including, it was said, some of my grandmother's family heirlooms) and headed back to Alabama. A friend from church had gone in and packed up a box of some of grandmother's personal items (her dresses, aprons, part of her salt and pepper shaker collection, costume jewelry, letters, photos and an old leather wallet or document binder with clippings). When the box arrived, inside the leather document binder were also, unknown til later were a collection of photos of her husband's family. Over the years, I made several unsuccessful attempts via family history bulletin boards to connect with his relatives and send the photos to them. Recently, in I began scanning some of the ones with identifiers on the back and loading them onto Ancestry. These are the daughters of Samuel O. Willard and his wife Minnie M. Crandall Willard.



In my father's line of the family there is a woman born in 1788 and all that has been known is her name "Elizabeth." This has led to a great deal of hair pulling over the years as one line after another attempted to connect her to this father or that husband...there have been some close fits but none you could say "takes the cake."

One of the realities a family historian has to take into consideration are those people who may have acted 'outside the social box'. In our search to identify Elizabeth, for example, we may be searching for a marriage record that did not exist. She may have never married the father of her three children; her name as known may be her maiden name; and we have to be alright with that.

There were numerous times throughout just American History when a woman might have no legal marriage record: she chose not to marry, her religious beliefs forbade or negated the need of a civil or church record, the marriage would not be recognized as legal, or marriage in her circle was seen as something done by the family or the individuals (by some patriarch of the family recognized as spiritual leader).

In many instances in remote pockets of the Carolinas, Kentucky, and Tennessee were reports who said vows, lived together as husband and wife, and then when the spring thaws came and the circuit riding preacher came back through there were weddings, often withoffspring attending.

In some instances, especially with men, they might have established a household with an African American slave or a Native American, and those unions in some times were not socially or legally recognized as valid. There can even be 'secondary' marriages or what we might call bigamy. These date back to as early as men left home to go trapping or trading elsewhere.

Politics could also play a role. Imagine for a moment a young woman whose family were dedicated patriots, committed to the cause of American independence falling in love with one of the thousands of English soldiers who served on these shores. Talk about your Romeo and Juliet!

So, sometimes, one has to think outside the box, lay aside personal issues of pride, practice tolerance and forgiveness, and recognize that the people on the family tree were not heroes and honor badges but were totally and completely human. This is important, because it allows us to learn and grow and become better people as well.


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