Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday Search: Valentine’s Day Genealogy

Today I thought I would do something a little different but completely appropriate given the Hallmark cards that are being handed out. One of the interesting things I frequently find myself pondering when researching the various ancestors in my family tree is about how these two, sometimes completely different, people met? Most of the time this information can only be found in the stories passed down from generation to generation.

When looking through many of the documents that my great Aunt has shared with me over the years, I came across a single page on which she has typed up what is basically a summary of her father’s life. Many of the facts are easy to find in the census, birth certificate, marriage, and death records but there were also details not contained in those documents including a little about his work history as well as, and what is most appropriate given the subject of this post, what brought my great grandparents together. Here is exactly what my great aunt, whom I have written about before, wrote about her parents:

Harry was the son of LeRoy and Sally Clapsaddle Teaford. He was one of nine children. He was born in 1895 and died in 1963. His first employment was as a quarry worker in a local mill that his father managed. He became interested in farming and had a love for horses. In 1916 he met Nettie Love of Sugar Tree Hollow. Nettie and her sister were accomplished equestrians. Nettie won several awards at local fairs where she rode English (side saddle) style. Their mutual interest in horses brought Harry and Nettie together and they were married in 1917 at the Eagle Rock Baptist Church. Shortly after they moved to Lorraine, Ohio. They stayed in Ohio only a short time and moved back to the Eagle Rock area. Harry began working as a farmer and over the following years worked for several large farm owners. His favorite position was with the Graham Burhnman Farm in Gala. During their time in Virginia the family had twelve children. All twelve children were born in Virginia.  

However, more often than not, we don’t have these stories written down for us. Many times we have to try and find and fill in the details with the documents that we do have. Such is the case with my great grandparents on my mom’s side of the family. Basically, the census is what really reveals how they met and given the fact of with whom they were each living at the time, it really is a matter of what some would call fate. My great grandparents, William J. McKannan and Helen W. Fulton, can be found listed in the 1910 census living next door to one another. Both 19 at the time, Helen’s family was living in her grandmother’s house while William was living with his mother and sister at his uncle’s house… his father, my great great grandfather, was working for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Trenton, New Jersey at the time. Two years after the census was taken William and Helen were married. Unfortunately, as I have written about before, it was a marriage that wouldn’t last.  

Sometimes other forces intervene in order for fate to take hold ensuring that what was meant to be becomes reality. It is true in my family tree and it is true in how my wife and I met. There are countless factors that brought us to that Barnes & Noble in Bryn Mawr that particular night when I, having just published my book "Kaddish Diary”, was giving a reading and my wife was working the floor. It was that instant when we, coming from completely different backgrounds with vastly different experiences, met for the first time each of us taking the chance and getting to know one another. The same chance that my great grandparents took when they first saw one another.