Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kin and Kindred Spirits

I’ve been off, reading again. I ran into this book at the library, and its pages provide me with all sorts of inspiration for writing and research projects. I was going to blog about those ideas today—I promise I was—but in researching the topic for today’s post, I happened to cross a bunny trail.

Okay, I detoured. Confession: I followed the bunny trail.

Where I ended up—and I assure you, I’ll share the “before the nexus” story tomorrow—was at a site that must be seeking to serve as a storehouse of more information than I’d ever want to know on the “outlaws” of one side of my mother’s family line. The way I got there was this:

I was recalling a researcher that I had met, years ago, while working on my mother’s Boothe line. This line, as you might have suspected, presents its own brick wall in the person of an early 1800s child named William Alexander Boothe. He had been born in Nansemond, Virginia, but had left town, supposedly after a financial debacle. He had surfaced, miles from home and as a widower with his two sons, in an obscure town in the eastern hills of Tennessee. At some point, he married again, and began the family from which I am descended.

That point is well documented. It’s the previous marriage and parentage in Virginia that has been a mystery to those of us descendants researching his origins.

That’s how I met Bill. Bill—actually, William R. Navey—was another genealogy enthusiast, and he just happened to share some of the same family roots as I did. He turned out to be a third cousin of my mother, although she never knew him. I never knew Bill, before I stumbled across his forum postings. We first met online, although we eventually had a long visit by telephone to compare notes and commiserate over our mutual brick wall.

Some time after I chatted with Bill, I stumbled upon pockets of data he had posted on the Boothe family in various 1990s-style home pages. He was prolific! He had never mentioned those to me, though they would have helped further my quest to document descendants as well as ancestors. I found his cache, years later, via Google.

Today, while reading my library book, I remembered Bill’s home pages and online postings. Rmembering put me in the mood to retrace my steps and find those sites. That task couldn’t be as easy as picking up the phone to call him, for I had stumbled forlornly upon a notice of the southern gentleman’s passing several years ago. So I resorted to my previous matchmaker and again Googled him.

That’s where the bunny trail seduced me. While I couldn’t find the sites I had remembered from over a decade ago, I found a WordPress blog that replicated some of Bill’s descendant charts. Fascinated with this unexpected discovery, I poked around the blog, hoping to find an explanation of why the Navey research was included at this website.

I never could find the answer to that question, but while I looked around, I discovered someone who must be a kindred spirit if not a flesh-and-blood relative. Could this be a next-generation working relationship in the making?

Everything from the title to the slightest archived post had a whiff of déjà vu to it. The blog’s title included one of my favorite icons for catch-all-isms, The Kitchen Sink. The blog creator caught the same vision I’ve had for researching family links: not merely rehearsing dull facts of not-so-vital statistics, but seeking to finger the essence of personhood of relatives long-gone yet somehow still alive through our own existence.

Cathy Ann Abernathy, the blog’s creator, turns out to be a weaver in addition to writer and genealogist. Each facet of her being is evident as she weaves a full spectrum of her life’s interests into her blog posts. I never have been one for segmenting the aspects of personhood, and can so relate to this approach. Perhaps that’s why the theme of a tapestry has had such a pull on me. This time, however, I’m not weaving strands of dead people’s stories; I’m connecting the loose ends of living threads. My search for the stories of long-gone relatives has tied me up in the lives and interests of people like Bill and Cathy.

I guess that means, in a way, I’m a weaver, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...