Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I guess you could say I’m stumping for my other blog here.

I started Green Woman’s Spiral Dance as a place to work out my spiritual spiral. In many ways that hasn’t changed. We run heavily to dissenters and Quakers in my family. I’m not sure how comfortable my Puritan ancestors would feel about my semi pagan explorations. I suspect at least a few of the Quakers would at least sympathize with my search for the Inner Light.

So, what have I discovered so far? First a big thanks to all the other curious folks who have done so much heavy lifting. We live on the west coast, and almost no one in the family tree has, as far as I can discover, also made the trip. I’ve also discovered that success is as much luck as persistence. Mom was going through old pictures from my grandma Heaton’s collection. She was pretty good at labeling pictures; her handwriting really sucked though. And one shot was labeled as pa’s mother with the lady’s name. That’s where the fun began. It turns out that grandma didn’t spell great great grandma Tabitha’s last name correctly. Or a lot of people on the Ancestry website didn’t spell her name right. Take your pick.

Here’s where the luck starts to come in. In 1900 Tabitha Jane (Riley) Smith was living in the household of her son William and my grandmother Audrey was already born. So I had three generations to work from and her entry tells me what state she was born in; Ohio. Then I could play with other census records. You go back a little further and find a record for Louis (Lewis) C Smith, his wife Tabitha Jane and their children including William.

Both Lewis and Tabitha appear in the 1860 federal census entry for a William Riley. Lewis is listed as a farm worker aged 19 born in Indiana. Tabitha was all of 14. And that’s it for Great great grandpa Smith; I hit the brick wall. He wasn’t born for the 1840 census. And his family probably wasn’t the only one missed for the 1850 count.

Federal census records have some significant gaps. One of the largest is that the wife’s maiden name is not listed. Yippee, great grandma is named Hortense. Hortense who? They didn’t put her maiden name on the tombstone she shares with great grandpa John. Census records did list their birth state as Ohio. Family records show that John was born in Meigs county. When another tree uploaded information about a Hortense Robinson who married a John Heaton, both from Meigs County, I crossed my fingers and went for it.

John may be a common name but Hortense isn’t. She’s the only one I’ve come across so far. And the family had a habit of using a wife’s surname as a middle name for a child or grandchild. Susannah Fenn married Phineas Robinson, Their son Fenn married Lidia Crane. Eli Crane Robinson had a daughter named Hortense who had, among other children, Walter Crane Heaton. And Walter, known in the family as Uncle Joe (can’t imagine why) was grandpa Ernie’s big brother. Might not stand up in a court of law, but it looks pretty good to these eyes.

And we do go back. The lines I can trace got here early; mid seventeenth century if not sooner. I want to explore where and why? Why uproot your family, pack them aboard a hundred feet or so of wooden ship, spend nine weeks or so crossing the North Atlantic risking shipwreck, disease and bad food to fetch up in a wilderness?

I’m being a little selfish double posting. I see that there are folks checking out this blog from many different places. Who knows I might get lucky and some will recognize a family name. I could use some company on the roller coaster.

Cross posted on Green Woman's Spiral Dance.

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