Here’s What I Heard…

06 Feb

My dad was a Miller from Florida, and my mom a Rose from Oklahoma, so when I asked “where did we come from?” the answers were all over the place.

The phrase, English, Irish, Dutch and Scotch, was recited more than once. I also heard we were German, Black Dutch, Scots-Irish, rumors of Cherokee and maybe another tribe. Then there was Lauderdale County, Alabama; a few counties in Tennessee; Sterling, Illinois; Arkansas; and Texas.

I heard my Uncle Wes Rose died in France (or Germany) during World War II.

My dad was born in Kissimmee, Florida and I heard my family once owned the land now occupied by Disney World.

I heard dad’s grandpa died in a “hunting accident” after the 1929 stock market crash.

I heard my great-grandma, Bessie (Belew) Rose, died of “childbirth fever” after my grandpa was born. The Grandma Lizzie Rose I knew was a step-mom. She made quilts for all us kids. She and Grandpa Will also dipped snuff. There was a Coke bottle or spit can—tin cans that formerly held peaches or some other canned food—on the floor beside every chair and at both ends of the couch in their living room in Lexington, Oklahoma. “Don’t touch that!” mom would hiss when my brothers or I looked too hard at the tobacco-stained containers.

My Great-Grandma Miller lived to be 101. When she turned 100 I heard she got a birthday card from President Kennedy. So I decided I would live to be 100. Turns out she’s also a step-mom, but no matter. I intend to follow in her footsteps. Grandma Miller, as we called her, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi during the Civil War. When she was a baby, Union solders headquartered in her house. The Yanks called her “little Reb.” I heard this just as I learned about the Civil War in school.  I was amazed I knew someone who lived part of that history.

I also heard the story of cannibalism during an ill-fated journey to Pike’s Peak during the Gold Rush of 1859. The Blue brothers—Daniel, Alexander and Charles, brothers of Grandma Catherine (Blue) McKay—ventured west from Whiteside County, Illinois. They, along with other gold-seekers, took bad-advice and the wrong route to the gold fields. Daniel was the only survivor to tell the tale.

On a lighter note, I also heard we were related to Davy Crockett and maybe Minnie Pearl.

History has always been my favorite subject and it’s even more interesting now that I’ve found places where my family story fits into the history books.

I’ve been skimming the surface of my family research for about a year. Through links to other family trees on I’ve come upon even more fascinating information. I found out if you can link your tree to a president you’ll find a treasure trove of information. Professional genealogists spend a lot of time looking up the heritage of presidents. Ronald Reagan is our presidential link. He is also related to the Blues of Whiteside, County, Illinois, so when my family tracks back to his family tree it takes us both back to Scotland’s King James and beyond.

I’ve found connections to chapters in American history regarding the Dutch West Indies Trading Company and New Amsterdam in 1624; Jamestown, Virginia, in 1609: the Revolutionary War in South Carolina, Virginia, and in the northern colonies; the Civil War on the side of the Union and the Confederacy.

Less savory connections include Lizzie Borden (btw, she didn’t do it) and the Salem Witch Trials. More esteemed events include the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1619, and the Continental Congress. I’m still looking for a family signature on the Declaration of Independence.

I’ve found sea captains, weavers, doctors, merchants, farmers, seamstresses, saddlers, and carpenters, with an undercurrent of adventurer running through the whole lot of us. Oh yeah, a few kings and queens back in the old country.

My family seems to be relatively long-lived. At some point I’ll do the math and see what the life span has been for my forebears. We also come from generally healthy well-bred stock. Some of the amazing women in my family had a child every year or two until about the age of 50! One mom had 15 kids and all but one survived the perils of childhood. Another mom had 14 sons and I think there were a couple of girls in that batch.

Then there’s my Grandma Bessie Belew Rose who had two sons in 11 months! There was a lot of work to be done in rural Oklahoma in 1909 and no time for recovery after childbirth. Two months after my grandpa was born she bled to death. Which points out issues we take for granted these days: birth control and pre and postnatal health care. But I digress.

I’m on a search to match what I’ve heard with the real story of my family. I’ll tell those stories here. I’m looking forward to mapping our locations across the country and to connecting with extended family.

My family tree on is way out of whack. I’ve connected accurately with other families, but in some cases I have duplicated the kids and siblings with mystery parents, extra parents, or no parent at all. I’m trying to sort my way out of the mess I’ve created. I intended to delete a duplicate grandfather and ended up deleting most of my dad’s branch of the tree. (eeeek!) I have it in another place, but I’m going to be more methodical in recreating it.

Here are some surnames I’m working on: Miller, Rose (mom and dad); Miller, McKay, Rose, Scott (grandparents) and Miller, Bass, McKay, Blue, Rose, Belew, Scott, Crouch (great grandparents). That’s as far as I can go from memory, but other surnames to watch for are: Birdwell, Fortner, Bullington, Truax, Wink, Bryant, Stillwell, Crockett, Simpson, Cochran, Croshaw, Brashear, Sprigg, Graves…

As to the English, Irish, Dutch, and Scotch thing, now my origins read more like this: England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, …  Then there’s New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, and of course Oklahoma.

I hope you’ll follow my family search, especially if we’re related. If you are looking from the inside out on one of the branches of my tree let me know so I can get it right.

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Posted by on February 6, 2011 in Rememberies


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