In a previous post, I asked for topics to write about. A friend responded with over half a dozen topic ideas. So here I am, trying to figure out what to say about my family tree.
I barely remember my great-grandparents. I don’t remember any of them from dad’s side (I think they were all long gone before I was ever born) and I barely remember Papa Tyler or Big Mama Jamison. Sadly, I don’t know their first names or much else, for that matter.
What I do know is the stories that have made the rounds in the family.
Like the one my Grannie (mom’s mom) used to tell about Big Mama (her mother-in-law). Grannie and Big Mama couldn’t stand each other. My Big Daddy (mom’s dad) fought in the war. My aunt Mollie (mom’s oldest sister) was a baby at the time. They owned one milk cow and Grannie was feeding Mollie the milk. As Grannie tells it, Big Mama tried to take the cow – the same cow that Grannie was milking to feed my aunt – during this time. The relationship between Grannie and Big Mama never improved either.
Papa Tyler (Grannie’s dad) died when I was little. Papa had dementia and so when Mom would take us to the nursing home to visit, he would never remember who we were. Which was sad, because when Papa was younger, he was a character. Grannie told a story once about how when she was a teenager, she and Papa were riding through town and a man Papa knew walked out in the road in front of Papa’s truck. Papa yelled out the window, “Hey, you old son-of-a-bitch! Get out of the road!”
My great-grandfather on my dad’s side, Dave Maroney, was an Irish immigrant. He came to this country from Dublin. (And yes, I do have an Irish temper!) He worked for the railroad. Great-grandpa Dave was a bit of a family mystery for a long time. You see, one evening, he told my great-grandmother and their kids that he was going out to feed the pigs. Only instead, he disappeared without a trace. After his pocket watch (I think) was found out past the pig pen, the rumor within the family was that he was murdered, although I was never clear on why. Something about he owed someone money? Anyway, he disappeared and left my great-grandmother to raise three kids on her own.
My Papaw (dad’s dad) lived on the same land that he was raised on. Dad tells stories sometimes about walking through the woods to get to his grandmother’s house (she lived on a small hill about a half mile from my Mamaw and Papaw’s house). The woods are long gone (the land is mostly pasture now) and the old house is nothing but an overgrown ruin.
We found out much later, when my aunt (dad’s older sister) started doing genealogical research, what happened to great-grandpa Dave. Apparently, Dave was a bigamist. As I mentioned, he worked for the railroad. His work landed him somewhere in either Alabama or Mississippi (can’t remember which), where he met and married a woman who was NOT my great-grandmother. They either had just had a child or were expecting their first child when he mysteriously disappeared. He apparently jumped a train and rode it to northwest Louisiana, where he met my great-grandmother. He married her, they bought around 100 acres or so, and he settled into life as a farmer. They had three children together and then he up and disappeared. Turns out, he went back to the first wife and they had a couple more kids together.
Then there’s my Mamaw’s side of the family. Her maiden name was James. According to research done by one of Dad’s cousins, Mamaw was a relative of Frank and Jesse James. According to local lore, back in their outlaw days Frank and Jesse used to ride through northwest Louisiana, sometimes even down into central Louisiana. They would leave their tired, run down horses in place of healthy horses that they “borrowed” from the locals. They’d come around every few months, returning the horses they had “borrowed” and retrieving their own horses (which were now recovered from their time on the trail). I’ve never seen pictures of Mamaw’s uncle Frank (her dad’s brother), but he is supposedly a dead ringer for Frank James (Jesse’s brother). So we’re related to the James brothers, but I’m not sure exactly how.
So on dad’s side of the family, we have a bigamist and bank/train robbers. My dad’s family is not what I’d call normal.
I don’t know much about my ancestry other than my paternal great-grandfather was Irish. There is supposedly some Native American in both Mom’s and Dad’s families. Because my Big Daddy was so tall, there was some speculation that he had some Scandinavian blood in him. On Mom’s side, there is also a bit of Dutch, Welsh, and English blood as well. I’m not really sure about Dad’s, but probably something similar there.
Maybe one day, I’ll spring for a paid membership on Ancestry.com and start researching my family in depth.
After I wrote this, I got on Ancestry.com and started playing with the family tree I started on there back in 2010. I’m still too cheap to spring for a full membership, but I’ve made a lot of progress with the family tree.