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Saturday, January 5, 2013

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Genealogy: My quest to find the living, Part 1

An extended family: Eastpoint, Florida
An extended family: Eastpoint, Florida (Photo credit: State Library and Archives of Florida)

I really enjoyed creating this resource because it brought back so many fond memories of discovering extended family. The resources and methods described here have helped me to learn more about my ancestors (photos and stories) through many extended family members that I have discovered. This will probably take up more than one post.

One of the purposes for me in researching extended family was to discover what they could tell me about my ancestors so that I could preserve history in books for my future posterity.  I have been able to publish several books, but I still have along way to go. 

I was very fortunate as a child to have heard the conversations between family members about the past.  I would wait for the discussion to break, and then I would interject my own questions that I anxiously wanted to have answered.  I did this without pen or paper.  My interest was so great, I would often look forward to the times the family would get together so I could learn more.  I hope every young person has the opportunity to hear family stories from parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. 

While young, I began asking questions of my grandmother when we were alone.  I wanted to know about her parents and grandparents. I questioned her about what life was like growing up on the farm.  I asked her about slavery and if she knew any stories of slaves in our family.  She told me that her grandmother was sold from her mother as a slave as a very young child.  She also told me that a grandmother was freed from slavery when she was a child.  

I did not think of asking the name of her grandmother back then.  I know now that it was either Martha Sims Talley or Elenia Coleman Chick.  My grandmother, Otis, would have known both of her grandparents well.  I have documented both of them on the census back to 1870 and on other historical records.

Otis Edna Tucker was very much a lady.  She carried herself as a lady throughout her life.  I  never saw her in anything but a dress. She was very careful to teach me what it meant to be "trifling" as she would say.  I have become like her in a huge way.  She grew up in a time where it did not take much for African Americans to be treated with disrespect.  She knew it was important not to give anyone a reason to disrespect her.  

She was the oldest, and helped out a great deal on the farm.  She even taught in a one room school house where some of her siblings where her students.  Her dad introduced her to Emory Wallace Vance, and little did he know they would later elope.

I have traced the Tuckers and the Chicks clear back beyond the 1700's.  Both of my great grandparents descend from slave owners.  Our records are intertwined within the records of the former owners and their children.  

It was through a family reunion during later years that a print of the photograph of the father of George Anderson Tucker which hung in their home was shared.  A photo of Martha, George's mother, hung alongside it, but it was destroyed in a house fire.

When I began researching, I traced my ancestors back as far as I could.  I wanted to learn more, and as I looked at all the names of their descendants I had recorded on extraction forms in my search, I wondered if there was anyone alive that could tell me more.

I decided to search each census forward to identify extended family that could still be living.  I branched out on several collateral lines. In the next article, I will share some of those census discoveries and how I learned about more members of each family group. 


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