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Hartselle Enquirer

It's best to let some stones left unturned

By Staff
Leada Gore, Editor
Like thousands of people, my grandmother is interested in genealogy. She's done a great deal of work into our history, tracing the family tree back to the late 1700s. She even took time to travel to Virginia for the installation of a monument for some of our descendants who lost their lives in the Civil War.
In doing our history, she learned we had relatives who had served in every war since the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, most had lost their lives in these wars, a fact that proved to me while my ancestors might have been brave, they weren't especially good at ducking.
The subject of family lineage came up again a few weeks ago when Greg's son had a school assignment that involved constructing a family tree. Both his grandmothers were called into service, as it seems grandmothers are the ones who keep up with information such as this.
Greg received the emailed information from his mother and immediately became intrigued with the information. Blossoming on the computer screen before him was a family tree of unusual names (no one is named Bessie any more); long-lost cousins; and at least one distant relative who it appears married brothers. It seems one brother/husband died so she married the other brother/husband, or at least that's what we hope.
"It's better than I thought," Greg said. "I was always afraid to look too closely at my family tree. I was afraid it would end up being a straight branch."
I smiled and shared a story I came across when I researched my family tree. I quickly learned it was confusing, as all of my grandfather's brothers had a middle name of Alfred. I had to wade through several William Alfred and Charles Alfreds to get to the right one, Clarence Alfred. Then, it seemed the obsession with Alfred went back several more generations, until I became convinced I must have had a relative named Alfred Alfred.
"And then there's Duck," I told Greg. "It seems several generations ago, some DeVaney decided to name his son Duck. No nickname, either. That was his given name. I guess he was Duck Alfred DeVaney."
Looking into one's family tree can be interesting, but it sure can be scary, too. Sometimes, those leaves fell off the tree for a reason. Other times, the branches created a path that isn't exactly auspicious.
I guess that's what former President Jimmy Carter had in mind when he spoke about the precarious nature of family trees.
"We've uncovered some embarrassing ancestors in the not-too-distant past. Some horse thieves and some people killed on Saturday nights. One of my relatives, unfortunately, was even in the newspaper business."
Ouch.

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