Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Eight Great Surprises!

I’ve always used as the basis of research for my own personal lineage those ancestors who came before what I call my ‘Eight Great’ families.  Those are the eight surnames of the four sets of my great grandparents.  Everyone and everything in my own ancestral past stems from those eight surnames, and in my mind, they are the beginning point of any ancestral hunt. My ‘Eight Great’ surnames are: Love, Wallace, Sanford, Akers, Roberts, Gardner, Marvel, and Zeigler.

Since I was born and raised in Memphis, TN and still live in that city where the Delta begins, I have quite naturally always considered myself a ‘Southern Girl.’ I never had any doubts at all as I was growing up that my ‘roots’ were completely and totally Southern.  After all, every one of my family members to whom I was close was associated with Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, or Tennessee.  Any of the family stories I ever heard had to do with those states alone.  My Love family heritage, in particular, was most definitely Southern, and had strong ties to the Lees of Virginia.  How much more Southern can you get?

You can certainly imagine then, I think, my complete and total surprise when I found out that FIVE of my ‘Eight Greats’ were Yankees!  (Mercy me, I’m pretty sure General Lee is rollin’ over in his grave right now.)  I was shocked, and in many ways, still am…that is when I’m not laughin’ my head off!
I had been researching my family history for a few years when it dawned on me one day that I should chart on a map all of those places where all of my ancestors had been.  I was already in the habit of consulting my old worn-out atlas every time I found a new place where an ancestor had lived. After doing this for a couple of years, I realized one day that more of my ancestors seemed to be from the Northern part of the U.S. than from the South. I was especially surprised to see those Northern family members who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War. At least one direct ancestor (that I know of) was a proud member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a society that was established for veterans of the Union Army.  
The Five Zeigler Brothers -
my gg grandfather standing at right

So I thought that in this blog post I would list the various places where those members of my ‘Eight Great’ families lived.  Perhaps you, dear reader, might have some connection to one of these names or areas.  If you do, please let me know!
Here is what I currently know about the travels and movements of my only Southern ‘Eight Great’ families:
Love – England to Maryland to Virginia and then to Tennessee.                                  
Roberts -  England to Virginia and then to Tennessee.                                                 
Sanford – England to South Carolina to Alabama and then to Tennessee.     
This is what I currently know about the travels and movements of my Northern ‘Eight Great’ families:
Akers – England to New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Virginia to Kentucky to Indiana.                                                                                                                               
Gardner – England to Virginia to Indiana.                                                                  
Marvel – England to Maryland to Delaware to Indiana.                                                 
Wallace – Scotland to Ireland to Pennsylvania to North Carolina to Tennessee to Indiana.                                                                                                                         
Zeigler – Germany to Pennsylvania to Missouri to Kansas.                                   
Whenever those families with Northern roots appeared in a Southern state, it was always during a period prior to the Civil War. Also, I found the membership application papers for the Grand Army of the Republic for Cpl. James Lawson Zeigler, my great-great grandfather, on the Truman State University, Pickler Memorial Library site. They were found under the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Missouri, Manuscript Collection D1, Papers of the Corporal Dix Post.  Cpl. Zeigler served in the 27th Missouri Infantry, Company D.
Cpl. Zeigler would eventually move to Kansas, where he became a teacher and a judge, and where his daughter would meet and marry a ‘Southern boy’ from Alabama. 
Plotting the movements of your various ancestors is a wonderful way to have a realistic look at the lives of those people, especially if you study the history and geography of each of those areas.  I was not only surprised to find those five ‘Yankee’ families, but I was equally surprised to learn that six of those families had their origins in England. My Scottish and German roots are quite definitely strong because most of those families tended to intermarry with people of their own heritage.
As I’ve always told others who venture into the realm of family history research, be prepared for whatever you find, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Nothing that I found out about the origins of these families was any of those things, but finding out that I was not a full-blooded ‘Southern Girl’ was indeed an amazing discovery.
I guess ol’ General Lee will just have to get a grip on his grave now and stop all that rollin'!


  1. Great post, Carla! I had an elderly cousin tell me once that he didn't do much looking into our ancestors as "you might find horse thieves or worse"! While my mother is only the second or third generation from the Netherlands, my father's southern roots run deep. After nearly 20 years of research, I haven't found any that go past the Mason-Dixon line! I guess to give my children more variety, I married a Northerner :)

  2. LOL! That's one way to add the 'Northern' touch! Guess that's what happened with more than a few of my ancestors! :) Thanks for your comment...

  3. You should use to map your family

  4. Thanks! I do know about that site. I just really love to use the ol' maps & atlases. I'll have to break down eventually & join the 21st century! LOL Appreciate your comment. :)

  5. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.