Genealogists are odd sorts of folks — have you ever noticed that? We get all misty-eyed and sentimental over the strangest of things, all in an attempt to understand what our ancestors were like.
We can have a 50-limb family tree of names, dates and begats, and still not be happy because that is one-dimensional. We want to find tidbits that reveal the “real” persons sitting on those limbs.
I had no real idea of what kind of person Marion Carroll was. He was my second great-grandfather and died a quarter of a century before I was born. Like most men his age, he went off to fight for the Confederacy, but he wasn’t much of a soldier. He was seriously wounded in his first battle — at Shiloh, Tenn. He came back to Kirk’s Grove, Ala., for a while before moving across the state line into Early, Ga., where he lived out his life quietly as a farmer and father of nine children.
Proud as I was to have those details, Grandpa Marion still was just a one-dimensional name on a piece of paper, until ...
When his grandson — my grandfather — died and the family rifled through what they considered “worthless old papers,” there was the single document that brought Marion Carroll to life for me. He was an animal lover. That’s all I ever need to know about him.
So, you ask, what the heck kind of document did I find that told me that? It was a note that Marion borrowed $40 from a J. I. Early. For the money, Early held a lien against Marion’s 3-year-old Jersey cow and her 1-month-old calf.
How did that tell me he was an animal lover?
The cow’s name was Rhody. There it was, right on the promissory note he signed. Any man who names his cow must love her. Marion Carroll was a kind, sweet, loving man — I just know he was. Rhody knew he was.
And, by the way, he paid off the note and didn’t have to forfeit Rhody and her calf.
Odd. Yep, I told you we were.
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No genealogist needs an excuse to go to Salt Lake City — the millions of microfilmed records at the Family History Library are reason enough. But just in case, how would you like to be in Salt Lake AND totally immerse yourself in British research?
The International Society for British Genealogy and Family History is hosting the 2014 British Institute from Oct. 20 to 24. The lineup is star-studded, with top-rated professionals running four educational tracks:
Dr. Thomas Jones will present “From Simple to Complex: Applying Genealogy’s Standards of Acceptability to British Research.” Renowned Irish specialist David Rencher will focus on “Researching Your Irish Ancestors.”
The Scottish angle will be covered by Paul Milner with “Scottish Research: The Fundamentals and Beyond” focusing on Scottish laws, regulations and records that are different from the rest of the British Isles.
And Darris Williams will offer “Welsh Family History Made Simple,” which will center on understanding the peculiarities of this geographic research.
The conference will be held at the Plaza Hotel, adjacent to the Family History Library. Online registration and hotel reservations are available at isbgfh.org.
Detailed information on the content of each track is online at tinyurl.com/lmjp7rh.
Sharon Tate Moody is a board-certified genealogist. Send your genealogical methodology questions and event announcements to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She regrets she is unable to assist with personal research and cannot respond to requests for locating or researching individuals. Past Heritage Hunting columns are available online at tbo.com, search words “Sharon Tate Moody.”