When I set up this blog back in August, I was fairly convinced that I would make entries on a regular basis. Why bother to have a blog if I didn't do that...right? Right. Sure. I guess I didn't take into account that little thing called 'life.' Since I'm now retired, I was pretty sure that I could easily do this. Nevertheless, I didn't take into account the fact that I am still working two days a week at my old job, and that life truly does interfere with our 'best-laid plans.'
Today, however, is a new day, and I have a newly-found desire to put my thoughts on genealogical issues 'out there.' Now, you might ask what kind of expertise can I actually add to that already rich equation? The answer to that is simple: nothing; nada; zilch. Nonetheless, I can add my thoughts on certain historical issues and events, and in particular, I can write about my own family and my endeavors to find out about their lives. My degree in history and my years of family history research should count for something - I hope! So bear with me as I begin the process...
I actually began my journey into family history research back in the mid-1970s, when I found a document that my Father had written tracing our family back to General Thomas Gage of Revolutionary War fame. I was so excited to find that. I had already been teaching history for a few years and couldn't believe how wonderful it would be to share that with my students. But wait....what? This guy Gage was on the wrong side! He actually sent the troops to Lexington and Concord. Oh, my. I couldn't be related to him, could I? I was pretty devastated, I must say.
I had also heard all of my life that my middle name was Lee because we were related to the famous Lee Family of Virginia; General Robert E. Lee, in particular was my cousin. I never believed that for one minute.
I tried on and off for years to connect Hannah Gage, my fourth great grandmother, to General Gage. She was purportedly his daughter, which is what my Father had indicated in that perfectly drawn and filled in family tree that I had found. I hadn't been able to find the connection, and I thought it was my own poorly done research.
It was not until the early 1990s that I began my serious quest for the truth about these two family stories. I went once again to libraries and researched once again the children designated as General Gage's sons and daughters. No Hannah was ever listed. What could have possibly happened to her? Hmmmm. I finally found an article that had been written in the 1800s about one of her grandsons. The article mentioned that she was of English descent and was related to General Thomas Gage. Well! So much for family 'legends.' She was most certainly not his daughter. That's when I first realized how easily family stories could be passed along - incorrectly.
I also began to research the Lee family about the same time, and was truly shocked to find that I am a descendant of Richard Lee, 'the Immigrant,' and his wife Anna Constable, through their son, Charles Lee. Robert E. Lee is my fourth cousin, five times removed. Whoa - what a shocker that was!
So all of my life I had believed the family story that was not true and didn't believe the one that was.
Did I say that I had a degree in history?