Monday, October 29, 2012

Intertwining Families

In a place like Perry County, Ohio—where everyone seems to be related—it doesn’t take much time to realize that a lot of the same surnames keep showing up in many different families. Genealogists have always contended that “If you go back far enough, we’re all related.” It’s just that the genealogists studying Perry County have arrived at the proof of that conclusion far earlier than anyone else might have anticipated.

Take the family of Norma Flowers Stevens. I mentioned yesterday that both her parents came from sizable families. Her mother, Bertha Genevieve Metzger Flowers, grew up with nine brothers and sisters. Depending on the records used for the tally, Norma’s dad had at least three brothers and five sisters.

John Ambrose Flowers was the youngest son in that family. The oldest, born in 1870, began a long line of children that ended with the birth of the youngest in 1893. Once each of these children reached adult age, the surnames of those intermarried produced a set of names familiar to those in the New Lexington vicinity. Two daughters married Bennett men. Another daughter married into the Hammond family. A Flowers son married a Harris daughter, while her brother married a Flowers daughter. And John Ambrose Flowers himself married a Metzger, providing himself with a mother-in-law from the area’s extensive Gordon family.

The connections did not end with that generation. John’s parents introduced another whole generation of community relationships. John’s mother was the former Anna Maria Snider, daughter of James Jacob and Elizabeth Ann Stine Snider. Both the Snider family and the Stine family were also well known in the area, with bygone generations’ businesses carrying the name of various Snider relatives.

John’s father, however, is the one we’ll need to concentrate on for my current goal of attaining recognition for this Flowers line as a First Family of Ohio. Joseph E. Flowers, born in 1843 in Perry County, was a lifelong farmer in Clayton Township there. While I know very little else about the man—and though I need do no more than verify the pertinent facts of his life for the First Families program—I do want to revisit his generation once I finish this required paperwork, if only to learn more about his life and times. For now, and for the Ohio Genealogical Society lineage program, suffice it to say he married fairly young, had many children, and died near his home at the age of eighty.

With the preponderance of Perry County residents of the time bearing the surname Flowers, given time, I’ll have the freedom to explore the many online editions of local Perry County newspapers as well as the neighboring Zanesville Times Recorder for more information on the day-to-day life of these ancestors of my mother-in-law.

For now, the existence of documents showing Joseph E. Flowers’ birth, marriage and death in Perry County give me enough Ohio-ness to push back the timeline to at least 1843. With that, I’m getting closer to my goal of locating a Flowers family member there in Ohio before 1821.

Perry County Ohio Marriage Record Joseph E Flowers Anna Maria Snider 1867


  1. One of my fascinations with research is that awareness of the community of families that were IN an area, stayed there, intermarried, resulting in names that are truly of a place. In my family, I immediately associate a name with a county, and whether the family lived in the northern or western part of the county. I miss that about where I live today because it's so transient that NOBODY is from here.

    1. Wendy, when I began working in the city where I live today, it always struck me as odd when long-time residents of the area would share some information about another person. "How'd you know that?" was my inevitable question, to which I'd get a reply like, "Oh, we go way back."

      Growing up in the NYC suburbs, I never knew such an experience because there, everyone was transient. It's like you say, Wendy: "Nobody is from here." Having never experienced that wealth of personal residential resources, I'm not sure whether I'd value it or not. But I do recognize it as a contextual richness that I lack.

      I love maps. Looking at old maps can reveal a lot about a community. After writing this post, I went back to an old plat map I had copied, one that had given rise to some observations here, and let my eyes wander through all the family names there. There's a lot to take in, so I'll continue this with a post tomorrow. Thanks for getting me thinking!

  2. I did chuckle at this post. I love that intertwining of names and places. I do miss the old naming practices, which often helped to connect those intertwining families. Very interesting post.

    1. Thanks, Joan! I'm in the midst of revisiting those old naming practices, myself. A lot to puzzle over in trying to make those connections.

  3. I love to read your blog Jacqi--it makes me think. I've often felt like my own line would best be portrayed as one big knot because some families are SO intertwined.

    I had to smile recently when I discovered that descendants of my direct ancestor's siblings, living in Indiana, ended up eventually in Wyoming and married a sibling of my husband's direct line ancestor. Amazing. I am sure the more we do genealogy, the more we will find.

    1. I love how you put that, Michelle: portrayed as one big knot!

      That certainly is amazing about the descendants of each line (yours and your husband's) ending up married! Then again, when I read the stories of various famous people being distant cousins--and the explanation of the numbers behind making that plausible--I'm not surprised.

      Perhaps only because we genealogists are intent on uncovering our roots, we are equipped to ferret out these several-generation-long relationships. After all, who else would know their ninth cousins?! With a name like Taliaferro in my past, I do--and I'm sure you've had the same types of experiences.

  4. I am a native of Perry Louisiana. I am a SUIRE. My moms maid name is nunez my dad is SUIRE. Grandma Perry. And my uncle is the first Perry to build the bridge in Perry for the boats to travel cargo the Town where I am from is very secretive not sure what went on there. Becasue I am afraid to ask Becasue I am always curious to find treasures that are suppose to be on our bayou. But have been exploring my family is royal. But to many secrets on the French side (France ). I have been doing the genealogy. Of the old Civil war cemetery. No one knows about. It is forgotten. But not for me it is on my back yard. I can’t even step on the grounds I see to much history. There. Thanks for your time if u want to talk more. We can.


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