Genealogy is a funny thing. It opens up a whole new world, teaches us who we are. Over the years there have been two different theories about raising children – nature vs. nurture. I figure it’s a 50-50 deal. The nurture over nature people always point to Ronald Reagan as an example of a person overcoming their background, not really knowing what his background was. Yes, his father was a drunk, but it was life, turning him into what he became. His mother, who worked in one of the department stores owned by one of Wyatt Earp’s relatives was the salt of the earth, an amazing person. Which leads us into nature. Most Earps were and are involved in law enforcement. They’re cops from a family of cops. It is part of who they are.
When you trace families, strange things start popping up on a regular basis. If you’re in a jam when it comes to tracing a specific ‘line’ of a family, look for first names. Birthdates, dates of death, and marriages also appear in clusters. In our family, birthdays start in early January, with Donna, and go through to about mid-March, with your grandfather. In that time frame is Cathy, Grandy, Bobby (?), my mother, Mary Jo, and Nana & Grandy’s anniversary. Nana was buried on what would have been their 69th anniversary. Grandy died on March 5. The same clusters appear in my father’s family – primarily in the summer.
We inherit family traits. The Perkins have a habit of folding their arm across their chest. Grandy’s family puts their hands in their pockets. I’m compulsive about it. Just look at this photo of Catie that I took in September. She is doing the same thing, trying to fold her little arms. We inherit hair color, texture, patterns of baldness, height, weight, eye color. We even inherit the shape of our fingers, fingernails (mine are starting to curl under a little like Mary Jo’s do). I have thumb nails like Grandy. We inherit the way our toes either curl or go straight, along with the thickness of ankles. Grandy always said you look at a person’s ankles to judge genetics and bloodlines. You also look at crunched up toes. He learned that from his mother, who learned from her mother, and so froth and so on. There’s a reason. His mother’s side of the family, aside from a dash of German, is basically Norman. (So is my fathers – on both sides). The Normans traditionally judged ancestry (in the days before DNA) by looking at scrunched up toes and watching ankles. Thanks to the addition of my father’s genetics, Cathy and I both have scrunched up toes and the specific ankles. My father has a bit of Welsh in him – from the ‘old people’. They were short, heavy, and have very short arms. In some people the effect is almost a defect. Fortunately, I’m short – thanks to that Welsh blood. It’s also where I get a heck of a lot of my size. The Moores were tall and thin. So were the Reidheads. Grandy’s line has a tendency to have hair at birth which has a touch of red. Mine did, I think. I have idea what my real hair color is, so we’ll just go by the old photos. Grandy’s mother’s family were opera freaks. My mother and I are. They love classical music to the point of almost being left in tears over a beautiful piece of music. They are also artists. Your grandfather could be a talented artist – if he had wanted to be. My mother could have done something with art. Mary Jo could draw. Cathy is a cartoonist, but she doesn’t apply it. I had a very good friend who was one of the top space & science fiction artists – ever. He told me I might be able to get fifty bucks for a painting I once did – for the frame!
We also inherit temperament. The Reidhead men, I finally discovered, had a tendency to become quite mean when they grew old. My great-great grandmother, Charity Carter, left John Reidhead, Sr. because he as so nasty. We always thought the family split was over the fact that John, Jr’s line were some of the original Mormons. Come to find out, it was over the fact that John, Sr. married Charity Carter and the children of his first family couldn’t stand “that Carter woman” to the point where they made her life a living hell. She took her younger children and left him. With one exception, neither side of the family has associated with the other – since the 1880s. We have absolutely no contact -none.
I am so compulsive with this, while working on the previous paragraph, I had to go into my ancestry.com files. I found new information on Godby line, and, well. I’m getting to the Godbys. They were amazing people. When you have a family as well documented as ours, it becomes a pain in the tush, keeping up with everything. Right now, I’m trying to locate an exact piece of information on the Godbys. While I was doing it, I finally found the Smith line Nana always talked about. It is just plain cool. This guy, Sir Thomas had to have met Elizabeth I, at least once or twice in his life-time! When one considers he was with the East India Company, that is a given! This guy hung out with Essex! He was put in prison because he was thought to be a supporter of his. This is pure British history! I am just blown out of the water on this one! I never saw it coming. Nana was right, once again. She never got the facts and figures right, but she had the basic story down – sort of. He ran afoul of Elizabeth I. James I had him knighted.
I just can’t quite get over this one. This guy would have seen Shakespeare – the original plays, done by the original players! He helped to develop the East India Company!
I finally found the Godby information I’ve been trying to locate. For a good 15 years, I’ve been looking for anything to put John Godby in the Revolutionary War. I just did. I thought he was, but there was never any more than a hint of information about it. These people were cool! A big-time plantation owner, he became a Quaker. When he realized it was immoral to own slaves, he realized he could not free them until he had taught them to read, write, do basic math, and then give them his land – all of it. He kept a change of clothes for the family, a wagon, a couple horses, a team of oxen, and a bit of furniture. The rest of his belongings were divided up among his former slaves, in an attempt to make up for the horrors done to them. he then moved his family west – to Kentucky. From them came a huge tradition of ministers, primarily Methodist. Your great-aunt, Ester May (Nana’s sister) was extremely proud of the tradition of the Godbys.
Here’s where the problem comes in. There is a branch of the Godby line that marries directly into the Hatfields – of the Hatfields and the McCoys. Poppy’s mother, Elizabeth Godby, was the meanest person I’ve encountered in all of my genealogy. She hated him, treating him like a dog. His father lost everything during the Civil War, and was basically so wounded, emotionally, he never recovered. He became a teacher. His mother refused to allow Poppy to go on to school and to study. There was a judge who was going to send him to college, to study law. It was not allowed. He would sneak off to read, to study, and then his mother would have him whipped when he came home. She was brutal.
She never could quench his love for learning. I suspect this is where you and I, along with Nana, come by our curiosity of so many things. He loved science, astronomy, politics, and anything just plain odd. So did Nana. He was interested in crime, the law, and weird stuff. So are we. So was Nana, if you can believe that one. He was also vaudeville – a song & dance man. His first wife died within a matter of days after their marriage. He and Gamma did vaudeville until Aunt Leona came along, then he went to work, as a master carpenter and builder. He was in charge of all the construction of the expansion of the Naval base at Charleston Harbor during World War I.
Nana was literally the belle of Charleston – when Charleston was the place to live! She was infamous for dating Citadel grads and collecting their class rings! One Saturday night she had three dates, each scheduled for a different time. Aunt Lucille was ticked with her, so she called up all the guys, telling them that Nana had changed the time of the date. All three of them arrived at the same time. She just went back to her original schedule, without any of them being angry.
When she met Grandy, she was engaged to another man. Two weeks after they met, Grandy took the guy’s engagement ring, and the other rings she had collected, and returned them to her former fiance and different boyfriends. They were married a week later!