Monday, May 28, 2018

Why I Became a Genealogist

In the mid-1980s and from 1989-1999, I lived in Cincinnati. At that time the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's collection often appeared in top ten lists of genealogy research facilities in the United States. I always loved history and often saw lots of people researching their family histories as I used the main library.

On one visit home to Mississippi, my mother and grandmother (Nanny) discussed a trip they made to try to find out more about more about Nanny's grandfather Walton (or Walter) Harris. Nanny believed he came from Clinton, Kentucky, or at least that relatives resided there. The family story states he drove cattle to somewhere around Starkville, Mississippi. He stopped to water his horse and the cattle at the Mosely farm in Giles County, Tennessee where he met the woman who became his wife. She and a couple of female friends or relatives sunbathed in view of the men. After the cattle drive, he returned to the farm, taking her as his bride, never returning to Kentucky. I decided to try researching the story, hoping to locate Walton's parents in Kentucky.

Driving cattle from Hickman County, Kentucky, home of the town of Clinton, to Starkville, Mississippi by way of Giles County, Tennessee did not seem a likely route, and early efforts to find a family there which fit known data about his family from other censuses failed. I spotted Clinton County, Kentucky and wondered if Nanny confused the town and county. Clinton County was established in 1835, more than a couple decades after Walton's birth. However, its parent counties held relevant records. I built a case for his parents, based largely on naming patterns. I know I was a newbie researcher and that my case did not meet the Genealogical Proof Standard. I occasionally work on that line, trying to poke holes in my theory, but so far the conclusion reached remains viable.

It appears I inherited more DNA from Walton's wife than from him, but other cousins whose kits I manage hold valuable clues. My matches indicate a connection to the family, but those of cousins hold more matches showing a relation. I look forward to a day of research at Kentucky Department of Archives and History in a couple weeks when I look for additional things to incorporate in my proof argument.

The search for Walton's family ignited an enduring passion for genealogical research. I always did love jigsaw puzzles, logic puzzles, and the mystery genre. Genealogy releases my inner sleuth!

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