Thursday, January 14, 2021

Considering Kin


There is something quite aggravating about the concept of kin. Somehow imprecise, "kin" is nevertheless the word family historians gravitate to when no other term can convey the notion: not exactly related but, somehow, related just the same. It's a word convenient when nothing else quite fits as a descriptor, but we can't somehow contort the family tree to reveal the complex connection.

Southern relationships are sometimes like that. I suspect, in the one particular case we've lately been considering, that word may have often come in handy in sorting family ties.

In the question of just how a successful businessman like A. L. Lewis might have come to not only make the acquaintance of an old preacher like King Stockton but actually decide to write a book about his life story, I couldn't quite discover the nexus. But when I consider the little bit I've been able to determine of King Stockton's family, there may be an explanation: he and A. L. Lewis might have been "kin."

Since I know you won't let me get off so easily with such an explanation, let me lay out my case. It begins early in the life of King Stockton and his wife, Louvenia. I'll let the words of biographer A. L. Lewis explain:

It was in his early childhood that he met little Louvenia Ann Lewis, the youngest of five sisters, and at that time, they pledged themselves to each other.

Yes, admittedly, Lewis is a fairly common surname. It is quite possible that there was no connection between the two Lewis names. On the other hand, what are the possibilities that, in addition to the five Lewis sisters, there might have also been at least one brother?

Before we get ahead of ourselves with conjectures about connections, let's consider one other twist. While that may have been the report of the early years of King Stockton and his wife-to-be, let's take a look at what we can discover at the other end of life: those possibly error-ridden reports of parents' names in death certificates.

While not living quite as long as her near-centenarian husband, Louvenia Lewis Stockton died in 1925 after having lived ninety three years. What was interesting about her death certificate, though, was that it was her mother's name which was given as Lewis. Her father was listed as a Dean.

This small revelation gives pause to consider the connections lying beneath that serendipitous mention in that history journal's footnote about King Stockton in an article concerning Florida jurist (and Stockton neighbor) James Dean.

Perhaps once again, a person whom I considered a member of King Stockton's "FAN Club" may turn out to be much more than just a friend; Dean, Lewis, and Stockton may all have been kin. And if we can't discover the connection through Louvenia's own genealogy, perhaps we can learn something by exploring the family trees of those two more well-known men from Florida's history. 

1 comment:

  1. Okay, now the story is getting better! It is like a serial.


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