February 14, 2009

Skeletons in My Closet

I was just reading an excerpt about my 6th great grandparents from a genealogical website:

The King of England by his representatives in Augusta County Virginia charged Repentance Townsend on two counts.

Repentance Townsend and Mary were summoned to court in May 1755 on a charge of not bringing up their children in a Christian-like manner.

The defendant was summoned but did not appear, therefore must pay the church five shillings and fifty pounds of tobacco and that he pay cost of court.

Wonder what those neglectful parents did that brought down the wrath of the Church and the King of England? Were their prayers not long enough? Did they whisper in church? Or worse, did they smile on Sunday? I see that by tax time in November of 1755 the family had skedaddled to the wilds of North Carolina. Yeah, I would have beat a trail out of there too.

But then in North Carolina he took an oath to the king in 1773. A Tory at the head of the family! I guess the rebellious streak of independence that runs in my family didn't come from him. I wonder what he did to earn a name like Repentance? And I thought my parents hung an antiquated handle on me!


February 05, 2009

Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive

Sir Walter Scott was probably thinking about the problems this causes in our present day lives, but it is especially true when it comes to genealogy. I am trying to unravel such a tangled web now.

Story has it that my great great grandfather had children with a mistress in addition to the children he continued to have with his wife. And when his wife died, he married his mistress but changed her name to that of his late wife so that no one would know which children were legitimate and which ones weren’t. All of the children's birth records show the name of that first wife. However, the death certificates of each wife showed the correct names.

Since my great great grandfather went to such lengths to muddle the parentage of his children, it’s become fairly difficult to find out which wife gave birth to my great grandfather, especially since he is one of the middle children born in the years overlapping both women. He always said the name that was common to both wives, which was actually the name of the first wife. But he looks like his youngest brothers, which leads my mother and I to believe he was actually a child of the second wife.

Until next time, may you have blessings and clear records,