Heck, I’m No Professional Historian

So, I’ll go all woo-woo on you.

I’ve been doing some genealogical work for one of my friends and yesterday, I found the woman I believe to be my friend’s great-great-great grandma. The census records are kind of a bear to read, so I was saying outloud, as one might, various permutations of her name, trying to figure out what sounded like a name. You laugh, but this friend has a relative marked in the census records as “Square,” and saying it out loud is what made me realize the Midwestern census worker probably heard “Squire” in a deep, old school Southern accent. So, saying names out loud is useful.

It’s also tremendously powerful.

So, who should I hear from last night, after I got home? Her.

Yes, I know, it’s crazy. Take me off your RSS feed, I don’t care. I mean, I do care. I dread telling stories like this because I know it sounds nuts, but I also know that I would totally love and feel relieved to read a post like this, so I’m forging ahead.

She had not been thought of by someone she didn’t know in a long, long time. But she also has always thought that looking after her family was a thing she would do. She does it now, I think, for the folks she knows of. But it’s been almost two hundred years since she was born and it seems like, if they don’t know her, and they are not near where she rests, she might, in return, not know them.

So, she seemed surprised and amused to be spoken about by someone who was not even remotely related to her.

I told her that I wasn’t positive that she was my friend’s grandmother, but here was my reasoning. And she seemed to be content with that. Like, yeah, it seemed plausible that he was her family.  But she wanted to check him out, first, herself, before setting her heart on him.

But it felt like, damn, this is really someone who expects to and is happy to be an Ancestor. If she is not my friend’s ancestor, he should totally adopt her anyway, I think.

Luke Phillips, you could take a lesson, sir.

Ha, okay, while we’re doing true woo-woo historical confessions, when I was looking for Elizabeth Bennett’s people and I went up to Coopertown to see the Demonbreuns there, it was while I was sitting out. So, they came to see me. Who was I? Was I theirs? This question, “Are you one of us?” is one you hear a lot.

And I told the man I was looking for his mom’s tavern and he seemed confused, “My mother?” And I told him what I’d found, blah blah blah, was it the funeral home. “No,” he said. It didn’t look right. But it had been years since he’d seen it and he wasn’t that familiar with it in the first place.

Well, what did I discover when I was at the TSLA?

There was a good reason he was confused when I started asking about his mom’s tavern.

He wasn’t Bennett’s son. He was the son of Demonbreun’s wife.

Yep, that’s me. Faux-passing my way through your dead ancestors.

3 thoughts on “Heck, I’m No Professional Historian

  1. Happens more than any professional historian admits, but it’s damn hard to cite. The secular just talk about their hunches.

  2. No, no, you’ll get no eye-rolling from this direction. I find this fascinating.

    However I do have to comment that your berating of the thus-far uncooperative Mr. Phillips almost made me spit out my coffee…

  3. I think I’m sorta missing something in the Ancestor of your friend part of the story, but reading it, I got chills in a good way.

    No one’s ever asked me, “are you one of us?” I bet that would be really cool if they thought you *should* belong to them.

    I know way more about my husband’s family tree, going back hundreds of years, than he does (someone else did the research; I just put it into the genealogy database). Still, to his dad, if you’re not born into the family, you’re not Family, and you will *never* be Family. We don’t have kids either, which I’m sure is not helping.

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