A good woman

This story for my Auntie was written as I was on the road, headed back home to West Tennessee from her funeral in Ohio. Thinking of her all day, I quickly put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard, to flesh out my thoughts. After being home and rested for a bit, I looked back at what I had written and felt I could do better. So, for those who have read my story earlier, please forgive me for a few changes. Auntie Audie brought out the best in all she came in contact with and respectfully so, deserves the best in return. 

Six days ago a door to my family’s history was closed. Its doorkeeper, a wondrous storyteller, bridged the past to the future – connecting present generations to generations long past and reminded us of our family’s rich heritage and devotion to God.

Yesterday, our family matriarch was laid to rest and with her, our connection to a glimpse of a Bermuda long gone. Although we lost our beloved sister, mother, grandmother and auntie, her leaving was not just a time of mourning and sadness, but also of a celebration of her life and the love that she gave to us all. The lessons that she taught us in life – love of family, of life and for the almighty – carried over in her remembrance. A gathering of family – siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – came together to celebrate and to remember the woman, who without, many would not be here today.

She was my grandfather’s younger sister and although she was two generations from me, she was one of my favorite family members. Auntie Audie meant a great deal to me. Growing up, I would see her quite often when she visited my grandparents, who lived in the same small town in Ohio. Or we would go to her home for visits, which I loved to do because she had a swimming pool and was always ready to offer a swim, even if I came without a suit, she would tell me she had one for me to use! She was always one who loved to spoil too with snacks and soda, as well as lots of hugs and kisses.

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Father, Louis Benoni holding baby Dorothy Audine, mom Dorothy “Dorrie” May Tatem, and brothers Louis “Billy” William and Albert “Ray” Raymond Panchaud

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Dorothy Audine Panchaud

Dorothy Audine Panchaud Richards was born at home on Thursday, January 20, 1927 in Spanish Point, Bermuda. The third child and only daughter of Louis Benoni Panchaud and Dorothy May Tatem, she was welcomed by her older brothers, four-year old Billy (Louis William) and two-year old Ray (Albert Raymond).

A third brother (and probably her favorite because she could spoil him since he was so much younger than her) joined the family about 10 years later. Named for her mother and grandmother Mary Audin Clough, who in turn was named for her grandmother Mary Audin, Dorothy was called Audie during her life and grew to be a beautiful and stately woman.

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Grandmother Mary Audin Clough

Born into a prominent and old Bermuda family, whose ties to the island began in the 1600s, she grew up healthy, strong, very independent and very much loved, surrounded by a large and extended family on the island.
MARR_PANCHAUDAudine_RICHARDSRobertShe met the love of her life, Robert “Bob” Sanford Richards, a young American sailor while he was on duty in Bermuda. Marriage at 20 and five children soon followed, as well as a move that would take her from her island home to a new home and country in 1952.

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Audie and younger brother Michael Panchaud

A gifted pianist, she taught hundreds of students for more than five decades to embrace their talents and to develop a love of music. A steadfast fixture at the organ of her home church, you could find her every Sunday, filling the sanctuary with beautiful and heartfelt music in tribute and honor of her beloved savior.

Audie led a life many dream of – her family and friends were always close by, and she found fulfillment in her life taking care of her family – her children and her many grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces and nephews and through her selfless service to the church and to others in need. She was a true woman of God and a genuine friend.

Always a teacher, she was the one who helped instill in me my love of genealogy and my thirst to know where my family came from. From her many albums of old family photographs handed down to her from her mother to her stories and anecdotes of family members which seemed to make the past come alive, her love of family showed through and has been my guiding force as I strive to learn exactly who we are, where we come from and to honor our ancestors who made it possible for us to be here today. For that, I will be eternally indebted to her. I am happy that I was able to introduce her to my contribution to our family’s history and lineage – my sons and her great-great grand nephews and her great-great-great grand nephew, my grandson Liam soon after he was born.

RICHARDS_Robert_AudinePANCHAUD_Nov 2006Uncle Bob, her beloved husband of 70 years was called home first on December 1, 2015 and Auntie Audie, I’m sure feeling she could not continue without him, soon followed less than two months later. I believe they are both laughing and happy to be together once more and I’m willing to bet they have joined her oldest brother and my grandpa, Louis “Billy” William Panchaud and my nana, Angelena Dorothy Mello Panchaud, in a friendly game of bowling once more.

Rest in peace loved ones, for we will soon see one another once more.


Remembering 9/11 and Michael

It’s been 14 years since the attack on America on 9/11 and Michael’s death. All day, I’ve thought of him and every time I have heard Alan Jackson’s song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning” I’ve cried… so needless to say it’s not been a good day. Michael, you have NOT been forgotten and neither have the other amazing Americans and citizens of other freedom loving countries who were taken to soon by an act of cowardice. America has not forgotten and we swear… your sacrifice WILL NOT be in vain! Rest in Peace shipmate… until we meet again.

familyheirlooms

This is a story I wrote immediately after 9/11 and after learning that one of my co-workers, a friend who worked for me onboard USS WASP for three years, had been killed at the Pentagon.  I can’t tell you how that felt to get that phone call. I was on duty and we were watching it unfold on TV. We were scared because we knew that Mike was in the Pentagon that day and worried for his safety. I remember there being talk that out of that huge building and thousands of people being inside, why did Mike have to be one who died. We could hardly see the TV through the tears that were streaming down our faces, praying that he was okay and that the call was a mistake. But it wasn’t. Mike was gone and he wouldn’t have wished anyone else to have taken his place. He…

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It’s not my day… I’m not dead

Each year on the last Monday of May, Americans take a three-day weekend to celebrate Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer. Many spend the weekend grilling, camping or fishing and some head to the beach, but all are enjoying time spent with family and friends. It’s a great start to the summer season but that’s not the real reason we have the holiday weekend. Hopefully, in the midst of enjoying the weekend, we also take time to reflect on the true meaning of the federal holiday.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was a day set aside to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. Decoration Day began after the Civil War ended to honor those who gave their lives during our country’s bloodiest conflict, and was proclaimed, not by the president but by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

America has always given freely of its sons and daughters during its fight for freedom – whether it’s ours or another country’s. Between our first battle, the fight for independence in 1775, to today, May 24, 2015 and our current conflicts in support of the Global War on Terrorism, America has lost almost 1.3 million men and women on the battlefield. Those brave souls who have died in our country’s battles, are who we should be honoring and remembering today.

Fort_logan_national_cemetery_4All day I’ve been the recipient of gratitude and well-wishes – and although I am very grateful and honored that people have been thinking of me and my service to our nation – today’s not about me.

It’s not my day. I’m not dead.

Nor, is it about any other living military person or veteran…. our day is in November and it’s called Veterans Day.

Today is the day to honor our war dead. Those brave men and women, who while answering the call of their nation, made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. They are who Memorial Day is for.

Honor them.


ACCOLADES

One day last week, I came home to an email which said I needed to moderate a comment on my blog. It was a comment left by Mark Subel, the chief digital officer of Crestleaf.com, informing me that my blog, FamilyHeirlooms had been selected as a must read for up and coming genealogy blogs. Talk about feeling amazed and honored!

I’ve always loved to write and when I started my genealogy blog, it was really just a venue for me to write the stories of the ancestors I discovered in my daily family history search. Truth be told, they don’t even have to be my ancestors. I often write stories on a headstone that “speaks” to me as I walk through cemeteries or search for “lost” family Bibles and photographs which have identifying info on them and then research the names I come across in the hopes of reuniting the lost artifact with family once again and I’ve been very lucky to have been able to reconnect lost family treasures with their rightful families.

I’ve never considered that my blog might be something that other people would enjoy reading, but I am blessed and grateful to know that there are people, other than my family and friends, who enjoy my stories.

Thank you to Crestleaf.com for the shout out and support and thank you to my followers for coming with me as I navigate throughout history, discovering one ancestor at a time.
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TOMBSTONE TUESDAY: Family means you’re never alone

COCKRELL_HughMurry_1904_2Whenever I’m stressed, I like to walk in cemeteries to help calm myself and today was a beautiful day for it.

Today, I found myself walking through Salem Associate Reformed Presbyterian Cemetery located in Atoka, Tennessee. I decided to walk to the furthest corner to see who was there, but on the way I stumbled upon a little headstone, lying on the ground and all alone. The stone will certainly be lost to the effects of nature within a few years, if not returned to a standing position.

COCKRELL_HughMurry_1904The stone I discovered marks the final resting place of little Hugh Murry Cockrell who’s life was just beginning when he died on March 28, 1904. It saddened me to see him all alone, with no parents or other relatives buried next to him and it made me want to know more about Hugh and his family. Where were his parents and why weren’t they buried next to him? Did they move away from the area after he died?

Hugh Murry Cockrell was the first born of Bryant Thomas Cockrell and Margaret E. Morrison and was born on Oct. 16, 1898 in Tipton County, Tenn. His father moved to Tipton County with his family when he was just a boy, and it is where he met his mother.

Bryant Thomas Cockrell was born Aug. 1, 1873 in Kentucky, the son of Thomas E.S. Cockrell and Sallie Tipton. His father was born in South Carolina and his mother, in Kentucky on Dec. 8, 1848.

The 1880 federal census finds the Cockrell family living in Brighton, Tipton County, TN. Thomas, 42 was a general mechanic and Sallie, 28 was a house wife, busily taking care of Bryant, 7 and his older sister Mary C. who was 10 at the time.

Hugh’s mother, Margaret E. Morrison was the daughter of Hugh and Ellen L. Morrison. She was born in Tipton County, Tennessee in December 1872. Hugh Morrison was the son of Irish immigrants, Chestnut and Margaret Morrison, and was born in South Carolina in May 1848 and died Oct. 4, 1914. Her mother, Ellen, was born in Mississippi on Oct 29, 1844 and died on Feb. 12, 1875, when Margaret or Maggie, as she was better known as, was just two years old. She died four days after giving birth to her sister who later died in September of that year.

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The 1880 federal census for Monroe, Mississippi, Arkansas lists Hugh Morrison, 32 and his young daughter Maggie, 8, living with the Guyne family as borders where her father worked as a farmer.

The Morrison family eventually found their way back to Tipton County where Maggie met and married B.T. Cockrell on Dec. 29, 1897. The young couple was blessed with the birth of their son Hugh Murry, a short ten months later.

The young family, along with little Hugh, is located on the 1900 federal census, living with Maggie’s father at Carson Lake in Troy Township, Mississippi, Arkansas. Bryant, 27, is a farm laborer, working along side with his father-in-law.

A daughter soon joins the family and she is named Flossie Ellen. She shares her name with her father’s youngest sister and her maternal grandmother, and she was born on March 5, 1901 in Tipton County, Tenn. But, like her mother suffered before her, she too loses her mama before the age of two. Maggie dies the following year at the age of 29 on Aug. 7, 1902. Bryant is just 29 when he becomes a widower with a young daughter and son, just a couple of years older than his father-in-law was when he became a widower.

Approximately 18 months later, tragedy strikes the family again when young Hugh Murry passes away at the age of 5 on March 28, 1904. The pain must have been unbearable for the young father to bear for it seems he vanishes for a time being. The 1910 federal census shows an 8-year-old Flossie living with her paternal grandmother Sallie and her new husband, Robert R. Mitchell, in Justice Precinct 3, Cherokee, Texas without her father.

But by the age of 18, Flossie has been reunited with her father and is now living with him and her grandmother, who is once again widowed, in Tipton County, Tenn. In 1920, Bryant is 47 and doesn’t appear to have ever remarried. He is employed as an automobile machinist, which seems he has followed in his father’s footsteps. His mother, Sallie, is 71 and keeps house. Sometime, after 1920, Flossie marries Leonard Thomas Abraham and has a son, whom they name Leonard Thomas, Jr.

Hugh’s father, Bryant Thomas Cockrell died on Nov. 15, 1953 in Shelby County, Tenn., and was buried in Salem alongside his mother. His sister Flossie Ellen Cockrell Abraham died on Dec. 24, 1963 and is also buried in Salem, along with her husband and son. His grandfather whom he was named after, Hugh Morrison, died on Oct. 4, 1914 and is also resting in Salem, as well as his grandmother Ellen and his great-grandparents, Chestnut and Margaret Morrison, who died in 1902 and 1904, respectively.

When I stumbled upon little Hugh’s headstone I was sad to think he was spending eternity all alone. There are no family stones next to him, but after learning whom his family is, I find he is not alone and has never been. For in Salem ARP Cemetery, he has his parents, sister, and his maternal and paternal grandparents, great-grandparents, not to mention uncles, aunties and cousins all at rest within the same hollowed grounds. Although his time on earth was cut too short and he was unable to leave his mark, I have to believe his family has done that for him, for with family, alone is something little Huge will never be.


Age ain’t nothing but a number

This weekend’s research brought to light that many of our ancestors lied or committed “age fabrication” when filling out documents, especially on marriage certificates or military enlistment papers. And it wasn’t the simple or honest mistakes we often find on census forms when census takers write down or hear the wrong year, or even the ancestor’s lack of knowledge of his or her own true age.

It was outright falsehoods… well, at least from my people.

Now, I realize people have lied or misrepresented their age for centuries. They either claim they are older than they truly are, perhaps making them old enough to participate in a particular event, such as a marriage or participation in military service.  Or they shave a few years off of their lives, hoping to fit in the environment they’re trying to be a part of. Maybe an older widow is marrying a younger man and doesn’t want people to know she is older. Or an older gentleman lists his age years younger than he actually is when wooing the hand of a much younger female while trying to impress his suitability to her father.

MARR_BREEDEN_Rebecca_RUDISELL_Oris_1933The marriage certificate of my great aunt Rebecca Mae Breeden reflects her age as 19 when she married Oris Edward Rudisell on Oct. 25, 1930 in Cambridge City, Wayne, Indiana, listing her birthday as March 13, 1911.  But, in all actuality, Rebecca was just 15 years old when she married her 21 year-old groom – her true birthday being March 13, 1914.

Marriagecert_ThaddeusGUARD_WintersMy great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Winters stated on her marriage certificate to my great grandfather Thaddeus Clifford Guard, that she was 18 when they married on May 16, 1907 in Cleves, Hamilton, Ohio. Her real birthdate of June 3, 1890 proves she was only 16 at the time of her marriage.

Both of these family members lied so they could get married without having to wait several years to come of age. Pretty harmless I imagine, although, I’m not sure what their parents thought about the life-changing fibs.

And these are just a couple of my inventive ancestors.

But, I also learned this weekend that sometimes people lie about their age to reinvent themselves. I was helping a fellow researcher track down her wayward grandfather, who apparently abandoned his family just a few years and a couple of children after his 1921 marriage to her 19 year-old grandmother in Canada. Her mother is now 94 and would like to know what happened to her father or at least, where he is buried before she dies.

Unfortunately, a quick search revealed that her father, most likely, abandoned a previous family in the United Kingdom and then perhaps, did the same thing to her family. His marriage certificate to his Canadian wife reported that he was a 41 year-old engineer, had been born in Montreal and had never been married. But a Canadian passenger list has him entering Canada as a married 41 year-old engineer, arriving in Toronto in 1911 from Bristol, England. It also says he was born in Ireland and not Montreal. She’s positive this is the same man, and I believe so as well, given his name and occupation, but the trail is cold after the marriage. The wife and children are living with the wife’s parents and the husband has vanished.

I wonder if the young wife ever learned that her husband was in fact, a married 50 year-old Irishman? Did he head back to England or Ireland to be with his other family, or did he move on and start another one?

Why would someone claim to be 10 years younger than they really were? Did our ancestors believe even back then, that people were treated better or worse due to their age? Did they purposely change their age, their status, their residency to knowingly abscond from their obligations? Did they really not know how old they really were? Were they just really poor record keepers?

It was all of the above and more.

Misrepresentation is definitely not a 21st century phenomenon and it will not end with the next century. People do what they feel they need to do to reach whatever point in life they feel they need to be at. Even if it means flubbing a few numbers.


Friday’s Faces From the Past: Searching for a lost child

familyheirlooms

Cabinet death card of a young childI came across this beautiful cabinet card in a local antique shop and was drawn to it. The picture is of a beautiful child who apparently died at a young age and his parents had a mourning card made. I could make out a very faint name written on the back – Robert – and I wondered if this was young Robert with the adorable curl on top of his head. I felt compelled to take him home. He didn’t belong in a cold antique shop among hundreds of  nameless lost ancestors. I wanted to find out more about him.

Upon closer examination, I discovered a very, very faint last name… Horne. The front of the picture has the name Forney and Bedford, Iowa which told me that the photographer of the picture was Forney and the picture was taken in Bedford, Iowa so I started searching Ancestry.com for…

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