Monday, March 25, 2019

Bachelor Uncle (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 10)

Marion Skipworth Lemman, Jr. (Big Unk)


I don’t have a bachelor uncle, but there was a man in our lives whom we called “Big Unk” and who was most certainly a lifelong bachelor.

Big Unk was Marion Lemmon, a confirmed bachelor who was a friend and companion of my Mother’s for about 10 or 15 years. My Mother never remarried after her divorce in the early 1950s, and truly only dated one or two men whom I remember. She devoted herself to her work and making sure that she was able to provide for her two children.

She worked for many years in the jewelry business, first at Munford’s Jewelers in downtown Memphis and then as the bookkeeper for the old George T. Roy’s Jewelers located in the 100 block of Madison between Front Street and Main Street. She would go on to serve as District Manager for Sarah Coventry Jewelry.

Marion (or Big Unk) was also in the jewelry business, and she had known him for a number of years as an acquaintance. I honestly have no idea when they began dating, but it was probably sometime when I was in high school or college. After my brother and I both married and had small children, he was always around for them. He doted on our children as if they were his own grandsons. They loved him, too, and still fondly remember their Big Unk.

Marion Skipworth Lemmon, Jr. was born 15 August 1907 in Memphis, Shelby County, TN to Eva Blocker and Marion Skipworth Lemmon, Sr. He had one sister, Katherine, who had two sons. Those sons were the originators of the name “Big Unk.”

Marion joined the Army during WWII even though he was 35 years old at the time. He was always proud of his service, but returned to the world of retail jewelry after his discharge.

He was a resident of the Peabody Hotel and a longtime employee at Brodnax Jewelers, working as a diamond expert.

Big Unk left us too soon. He passed away on 7 November 1974 in Memphis. He was 67 years old.

I’m happy to write about Marion Skipworth Lemman, Jr., since he had no children of his own to carry on his story, and I’m not sure if his nephews research their family’s history.

I’m happy to include him in ours!


(Sources for military service, birth and death: U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010. Ancestry.com)

@2019 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland







At the Courthouse (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 9)

 Shelby County Courthouse in Memphis, TN       
(Source: shelbycountytn.gov)



The courthouse was huge. I remember standing outside staring at the statues. They appeared to be giants. The steps were steep and hard to climb. The benches inside were too high to sit on and the deep, dark wood made them completely intimidating. The windows were enormous. I had never seen such big windows in my life. 

I was six years old and my parents were getting divorced. It was the early 1950s and people just didn’t get divorced that often back then. None of my friends had divorced parents. At least none that I knew of at the time. The fact that I had to go to the courthouse at all was traumatic in itself. My brother and I had to be ‘on call’ for at least a couple of days because the judge wanted to visit with us. I didn’t know why at the time, but of course, I know now that custody was an issue. He wanted to get to know us so that he could make the decision as to which parent should have custody. 

The beautiful, stately Shelby County Courthouse, that I’ve since come to love, was so frightening to me back then. Everything seemed so vast and so solemn. My brother managed to bring some fun to our visits there by teaching me how to run along the benches and climb up the windows. Needless to say, we eventually got caught, and the fun ended quickly. Very quickly.  

Over the years, I visited that courthouse as little as possible. But now I go frequently, mainly to participate in lineage society events held there. It’s funny how small those benches seem to me now. 

The records for Shelby County are now located in our archives and not in the courthouse. I’ve visited many small-town courthouses over the years searching for treasures in my family’s history. None of them are as beautiful as the one we have here in Memphis…and none have as many memories as that one does for me. Memories filled with nightmares from my childhood. It took a long time for me to be able to go into any courthouse at all. 

Thankfully, I’ve gotten over those nightmares. I’ve got research to do!





@2019 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Family Photo (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 8)

The Archer Family Farm in Washington Co., TN (Early 1880s)


I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more exciting family photo than the one I’m using for this week’s entry for the Family Photo prompt of the 52 Ancestors Writing Challenge. When I think of family, I think of this photo. There are literally family members all over the place in this picture!

It’s not a photo that I own. In fact, I found it online a number of years ago when I was researching my husband’s family. The great grandmother of my husband, Dean, was Dollie Lee Archer (1894 – 1963). She married Elder Frank Glenn (1885 – 1973) in the year 1910. It was from researching the Archer line that I found this fantastic picture.

One of my husband’s 4x great grandfathers was Joseph W. Archer, Sr. (1787 – 1866). He was born in Virginia but moved to Washington County, TN in the early 1800s. He built the wonderful house featured in this photo during that time period. This photo was taken sometime between 1880 and 1884, several years after Joseph’s death.

However, even though Joseph himself is not in the picture, and even though I have no idea if any of Dean’s direct ancestors are pictured there, I know the people in the photo are all related to him.

I love the way the photographer put people everywhere, even on the roof of the porch. I’ve seen more photos featuring family members like this since discovering this particular picture, but this was the first one of its kind that I had ever seen.

The photo was found on a fantastic site created by Archer descendants, called the Archer Family Site. The site is filled with facts gathered by other Archer researchers. 


I loved the photo when I found it, and I love it still. It’s the epitome of a family photo to me. When I look at it, I can visualize each of those people in the photo living in that great big house, or at least nearby, and I wonder what their lives were like. I imagine the effort it took for Joseph and others to build the house in the early 1800s and the love, conflict, joy, sadness, and probably even despair that prevailed inside of it over the years.


I’m glad that these people were part of my husband’s family, and I wish more than anything that I knew each person’s name!



@2019 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Love (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 7)


You’d think that this particular prompt for the 52 Ancestors Writing Challenge would be easy for me. After all, isn’t my maiden name LOVE? Well, strangely, I truly didn’t feel the urge to write about that family right now. I’ve already done enough of that lately. Consequently, since it’s the month of Valentine’s Day, I did feel as though I should write about the various kinds of love that fill our lives on a daily basis.

The love that comes to us first in our lives is the one we have for our parents, whether they are still with us or not. For some people, that type of love can be complicated. Way too often, there is some form of conflict between parents and their children, even to the point of never speaking to each other again. I’ve been lucky. I loved both of my parents very much, even though I didn’t really know my Father well at all. But I loved him and he adored me. His pet name for me was “poochie pie.” (You have to love someone who calls you that!)

My Mother and I loved each other very much, too, even throughout my ‘filled-with-angst’ teenage years. I knew so many people who had huge fights with their moms all the time. I never understood that and was lucky to escape those. I cannot ever remember her raising her voice at me at all. (Of course, she did with my brother on an almost-daily basis, so I know she could!)

Next, if we have siblings, there is the love (and possibly sometimes the opposite!) that we have for them. There were only two of us in my family and we truly did love each other. I will admit that there were times during my life that I didn’t much ‘like’ him, but we always got over those periods and the love stayed with us until the day he died. I love him still.

Then there is the kind of love we have for our friends. I’ve been very lucky in my life to make and have many friends over the years, some of whom I’ve actually known since the first grade. Friends fill my life with happiness and love, something which I rely upon heavily these days. My friends kept me going through the dark days of my initial despair when my husband passed away. They continue to do so. I’m forever grateful for that kind of love.

I have to include love for other family members at this point. Although I didn’t have a big family while I was growing up, I loved each of my known cousins, aunts and uncles. I didn’t get to see them often enough. Luckily, through my pursuit of genealogy, I’ve found many more cousins and even aunts and uncles that I never knew I had! Some of those cousins have lived here in my hometown all of my life, and I never knew them. How lucky I am to have found them, and how lucky I am to have the love of my husband's family, as well. My family has grown in ways that I could never imagine, and so has my heart.
On a separate note, there is the love we have for that special someone, the one who completes our lives and makes it worth living. I was fortunate to have that extraordinary love for 35 years with the man I called  “Moon of My Life, My Sun and My Stars.” Some people never have that with the person they marry, and I feel such sadness for them - and complete and absolute joy for myself that I was blessed to have that person for as long as I did. He is in my heart and will be always. 

Finally, there is the love we have for our children, grandchildren, and in my case, great grandchildren. There is nothing like that love. Even if they are not around often, the love is there and it’s deep and abiding. It never waivers. One can have those “words” or “moments” with them (even times of separation), but the love never leaves. It stays forever. I hope that if you are reading this post, it has for you, as well.


I’ve found myself literally crying many times when I hear of others who no longer speak to a parent or a child or a grandchild. It’s heartbreaking, even agonizing, for me. What a loss for both parties. Life is too short to spend it alone and deprived of the love of that person who should be so meaningful to you; that person who is literally blood of your blood.


Love? Through all its various forms, love can be deep, occasionally wild and passionate, sometimes soft and warm, often powerful, and every so often fleeting. Yet even for those moments when love has left us, its memory nestles in our hearts and stays there forever.


Be sure to tell someone you love them today. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow.
This is a Valentine that my Mother gave to her Mother 
when she was a little girl. Love for others is strong in my family.




@2019 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland

Friday, February 15, 2019

What a Surprise This Was! (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 6)


One of the first things that beginning genealogists are told is to not pursue their family’s history if they aren’t ready for disturbing surprises. I’ve actually put off the writing and posting of Week 6’s ‘Surprise’ prompt because I knew that it had to be one particular surprise that I would write about, and it is still very emotional for me.

I know that most family historians usually find a number of surprises when researching ancestors from their past; sometimes from their distant past and sometimes not-so-distant. I’ve found many of my own.

However, the biggest surprise that I found while researching my family was the absolutely huge one that involved my own Mother. Yes, that’s right…my Mother.

My Mom and I were very close. I thought I knew everything about her – where she was born, how she grew up, the jobs she had, her marriage to my Dad that sadly ended in divorce. Yes, I knew everything. Didn’t I have her photo albums? You know, the ones that captured much of her childhood and youth? Didn’t I have photos of her with her many friends and even all of her boyfriends?

Well, it turns out that I didn’t know her as well as I thought I did. I actually wrote about this back in 2014. (Please be sure to read that post if you can to get the full story.) I didn’t know about this particular thing until the 1940 Census came out, and it took me that long for it to sink in and actually write about or even talk about it.

My Mother got married at age fifteen – and not to my Dad! This information was given out by my step-grandfather in the 1940 census. She was one of those two people who were highlighted at the bottom of the page for her area. Naturally.

Since the writing of that post, I’ve not been able to find out much. But I did discover that the person to whom I thought she would have married was not the person she did marry.

I was able to find out the last name of the man she married on the Social Security Application on Ancestry.com under “Notes:”

Notes:
Nov 1935: Name listed as EVELYN WALLACE PECK; Oct 1945: Name listed as EVELYNE W LOVE

I suppose that means that she married sometime between October of 1935 and November of the same year. I still haven’t found his first name, and there is not one single photo of anyone named PECK in any of my Mother’s photo albums. It was a secret she obviously never wanted known. She got rid of his pictures and any mention of him.

She almost got away with it.
My Mother - around age 15

@2019 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland

Monday, February 4, 2019

At the Library (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 5)


The library: a place of refuge; a place of contentment; a place for quiet; a place for insight; a place of discovery; a place for excitement; a place for travel; a place for research; a place of pure delight!

The library is and always has been all of these things to me and, honestly, so much more. I spent many days at the library in my youth, mostly in those wonderful libraries at the schools I attended. I live in a big city, and even though I didn’t have one within walking distance of my home, my mother made sure that my brother and I visited our city’s main library as often as possible. (That main library has since moved to a newer, larger, and much improved facility.) When I finally got my own driver’s license at age 16, the main library was one of the first places I visited.

I still go to the library as often as possible. I’ve lived near the same local branch of our city’s system for the last 40 or so years. It’s less than a mile away from my house. I serve on the Board of that branch’s Friends of the Library and have done so for many years. I love that little library. Its very presence has brought a great deal of happiness to me and my family. Nevertheless, my husband and I would often find ourselves driving the approximately nine miles that it takes to visit the main library. The offerings, the research opportunities, and the special events there are all outstanding.

I will admit, however, that now I have a “new” library that has become near and dear to my heart. That library? The Germantown Regional Historical and Genealogical Center (GRHGC). I only discovered that library sometime around the year 2008 when the Tennessee Genealogical Society (TNGS) moved its headquarters to share the same building with the GRHGC. I joined that Society in 2006 and most of its workshops had been taking place at the main library in Memphis. With the move of the Society to Germantown, I found a new and exciting place to visit!

Since Germantown is a town outside the city of Memphis limits, I didn’t go there often. Nevertheless, it didn’t take me long to determine that the GRHGC and TNGS is located a mere seven miles from my house. That’s even closer than our own main library. The trip is well worth it because of the joys and delights I discover there with each trip!

As a family history researcher, I found an abundance of genealogical sources that aided me in my pursuit of my family’s heritage. In all of the books I used, however, one book in particular kept drawing me to it because so much of my direct line’s origins are documented in it: Early Charles County Maryland Settlers, 1658 – 1745, 2006, Heritage Books, Inc. (I wrote about this particular book in last week's blog post.)

One day I realized that I was using that book so often that I should probably just buy a copy and add it to - yes - my own library at home. The number of books my husband and I collected together over the years is enough for a small library itself.  I know that I need to “do something” with many of those books, especially the ones I boxed up after his death, but it’s truly hard for me to get rid of a book. It’s like losing a friend; like losing part of my own library experience.

“At the Library” was the prompt for week 5 of “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Writing Challenge. How easy this was for me to write about.

 “At the Library?” That’s where I am most of the time; it’s also where I live.

Just a few of the many bookcases and shelves with books 
tucked away in our home.





@2019 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland

Monday, January 28, 2019

Really? Which Ancestor Would I Like to Meet? Are You Serious? (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 4 - ‘I'd Like to Meet’)


Early CT showing Aaron Stark's Property & the location of the Pequot Fort.


The writing prompt this week in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge is “I’d Like to Meet…”  My answer to that is: REALLY? I want to meet them ALL! How can I possibly narrow down that field and choose just one?
Ultimately, I just can’t. It’s my firm belief that every family history researcher has an insane desire to somehow go back in time and meet their ancestors. I know I do. In fact, I have a few words I’d like to say to some of them, don’t you? You know, like, “Stop! Don’t do that!” Or maybe, “Why in the world did you do that?  What were you thinking?  Where the heck did you go?”
I guess it’s a good thing we can’t really go back in time and give them our words of wisdom, since that might possibly at some point change the course of history. (We have to keep in mind that ol’ time paradox theory!) Nevertheless, I’d love to travel back in time!

In this blog post, I’ll try my best to choose some of my ancestors because I do have a few choice questions for these particular people. 

First, I would love to go back and visit with my Dad, who died when I was only ten. I have so many things to ask him. I really never got to know him. I want to know about his years as a young man, growing up in the early part of the 20th century in Memphis. He joined the US Marines in 1937 and re-upped right before Pearl Harbor. I want to know about his years teaching as a Master Sargent at Parris Island. I want to find out what it was really like to be a part of the battle of Iwo Jima. There were so many things to ask, but I was too young to even think about them before he passed away. My question to my Dad would be: WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME THESE THINGS?
And then there was my Grandfather, the one who left my Mother and Grandmother when Mother was only a little girl. I’d like to ask him why he never tried to see her again. Or did he try? Maybe he did, and my Grandmother kept him from seeing her. My question for him would be: WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?
Going further back, I’d like to find my 2x great grandfather, Charles R. Sanford (abt. 1843 – aft.1875). I want to know when he was actually born. I thought it had been before 1839, but when I read his father’s letter to the judge in Tuscaloosa Co., AL in 1859, I knew I must be mistaken. The letter was to give consent for his son to marry, something that he wouldn’t have needed if he had already been 18 years old. And why didn’t he appear with his family in the 1850 Census? Lemuel Sanford clearly acknowledged him as his son with that letter, but Charles wasn’t living with them in 1850. Did he really die sometime after 1875? (That was the year his last child was born.) I can’t find a trace of his death - yet. Then again, here’s another thought: Did he leave that life to take up another one with another family? There are hints out there that this may have happened. Oh, Charlie, I HAVE QUESTIONS FOR YOU!
There are so many ancestors in between with whom I would love to have a conversation, but my final two choices include some of the earliest immigrants to this New World. 
My 8x great grandfather, Aaron Stark (1698 – 1685), came here from Scotland before 1637 and (according to page 806 of The Compendium of American Genealogy, Vol. VI Immigrant Ancestors), served in the Pequot Wars in 1638, the Narraganset Wars, and in King Phillips War around 1653. I want to ask him what brought him to this new land; why did he leave Scotland? Were the circumstances there so bad for his family that he felt he had to leave? And why did I read so many accounts of his getting in trouble and being put in the stocks? Really? WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU THINKING?
Finally, I really want to meet another 8x great grandfather, William Love (abt. 1636 – 1680), the first of my Love Family line to come to this new land. He came from England and settled in Maryland. In the MarylandArchives, the CAREER FILES of Dr. Lois Green Carr, it states that he was in the province of Charles County by 1662.
But was his last name really Love? DNA testing has proven that our family does not match any other Love families that settled here, except one. (We know that we are cousins, but we’re still searching for that connecting ancestor.)
When my brother submitted his DNA to the FamilyTreeDNA site back in 2003, we had no idea that our last name wasn’t originally Love. Our ancestral origins appear to be mostly from Sweden, Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries. Some of the names that match ours include Olen, Ostrander, Andersson, Gustavsson, Sonvik, Hansen, Axelsson, Bostrom. Well, you get the picture. None of those names are anything at all like Love, nor do any of them appear in our family tree.
Therefore, to William I would say, WHO WERE YOU AND WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?
I have one small hint that I found in the book Early Charles County Maryland Settlers, 1658 – 1745, published by Heritage Books in 2006. On page 171, William Love was listed in the index with the name Loofe in parenthesis behind it. The name, William Loofe, appeared right below that, appearing to be the same person. In researching the name Loofe, I found it to be Dutch in origin. Well, I guess that makes sense. Hence, the Scandinavian roots and DNA matches. 

Yes, I have a huge desire to learn more about all of my ancestors, and, as you can see, I have some burning questions for them. There really are so many things that we could ask them, aren’t there?
Perhaps, though, it’s best that we have to seek those answers as researchers. The ‘hunt’ is the fun part, isn’t it?
The hunt is definitely on for that surname Loofe. And Charlie Sanford, watch out. I’m gonna find you one day soon!


@2019 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland