Monday, April 1, 2019
Wandering in Circles
Sometimes, research projects seem to get so mired in details—or the lack of them, followed by the desperate search for any sign of a lead—that a researcher feels spun about by wandering in tighter and tighter circles.
In my case, that means I've not only run into a brick wall in my search for more information on the family of King Stockton, but I found that behind that wall is a mountain of background reading in the historical context of the Reconstruction Era, the advent of Jim Crow laws, and other aspects of life in northern Florida from the Civil War onward to the Civil Rights movement.
Sometimes, such circles can become dizzying.
I tried my hand at seeking clues from local history books, such as Echoes of the Past: A History of Suwannee County, 1858-2000, a book I acquired during my recent trip to Florida. From the second chapter, I learned that the end of the Civil War precipitated migration of freedmen into northern Florida from the neighboring states of Georgia, Alabama, and even South Carolina—hardly the exodus I envisioned sweeping the Stockton family out of the area in escape of the harsh realities of the Reconstruction-era south.
Other than that discovery, there was precious little to be learned from the three local history books I had purchased during my trip.
For now, I guess that means I'm stuck. And what I've discovered when I've come up against such stuff in the past is that sometimes, the project just needs to be set aside for another time in the future. As often happens, new material comes online, or surfaces in written collections, and the subsequent discovery of new tidbits propels the search onward—at that later point.
For now, I'll ask more questions of my distant cousins who remember Aunt Fannie's stories. Perhaps they will recall something else about King Stockton, his apparent distant relatives, the Deans and the Lewises, or about life in general in tiny Wellborn, Florida.
In the meantime, it's high time I started working on some of my other family lines. Genealogy is often an alternating pattern of bountiful discoveries followed by historical silence. While the story line here may have dropped to a bare whisper, there are other parts of my family history just screaming to be heard. It's just a matter of discerning "who" in my ancestry is currently calling my name.