Monday, May 18, 2009

The Three Sides of My Family Tree (part 1)

Step families and half-siblings are fairly common now. But when I was growing up, I knew of only one or two other families like ours. I was the youngest sibling in the family that was made up of Russells and Fergusons and I thought that was pretty special. (I didn’t think I was pretty special…just lucky to be in the family I was in. You’ll have to ask my siblings if they thought I was spoiled!) I was an only child with six brothers and sisters. I was the oldest and only Russell, and also the youngest child, with six older brothers and sisters to read to me and play with me and to look up to. What could be better than that?

I got interested in family history when dad received a box in the mail from Oklahoma. His dad’s sisters, Agnes and Lida Russell, had never married. Agnes was the second to the oldest but she was the last sibling to pass away. After Agnes died, her friend, Dorothy Peek, boxed up the letters, photos and scrapbooks and mailed them to dad. I was 13 and I was hooked on family history from that moment on.


I haven’t worked on the Russell ancestry for quite a few years. I have followed it back to the 1600s in some cases, but at the time I didn’t put sources to every fact I found. I need to go back and do that. And now that the Internet is such a part of life and there are so many databases available, it will be fun to go through what I have and add information as I add sources.

Some of the names on the Russell side of the family tree are Dayton, Hunter, Silsbee, Newcomb, Bradford, Kallam, West, Robison, Humes, Whittecar, Shepherd, Donaldson, Westervelt, Huestis, Totten, Humes, Pineo, Hamilton, and Miller. There is a drop of Dutch and another drop of French (very small drops), but the rest of the ancestors were from England. Most arrived in America in the 1700s and quite a few in the 1600s.


Last summer I was running out of branches to climb. Oh, I could go back and put sources to every fact I’ve found so far, but that seemed boring. (I will do it someday before it gets published in any form. I’m a firm believer in the saying “genealogy without sources is mythology”. I’ll do it someday!) I was visiting mom and she repeated something she’s said before, now and then, over the years. I finally listened. What the heck, I thought; I might as well see what I can find. I’ve got nothing better to do. This is the side of the tree that has been hard to leaf out. The Worth side hasn’t been too hard but when you have a Jones who marries a Davis…That’s about the same as a Smith marrying a Smith!

As a result of finally listening to mom, I discovered we are indeed related to the Pirnies of Weissert, as she has said all these years. I discovered another set of immigrant ancestors and have some good clues to follow to discover another set. That side of the tree is still very sparse, but there’s something special about the ancestors I did discover, probably because it took so long to find them.

Some of the names on the Jones side of the family tree are: Jones, Davis, Williams, Worth, Dugdale, Angel, Lewis, Swift, Robinson, Walker, Cochran, and Brice. The Worth’s arrived from England in 1846 and the Jones and Davis families also in the 1840s. Most of the remaining ancestors came to America in the 1700s.


George Clinton Ferguson (1830-1907) was an early Nebraska pioneer, coming well before statehood in 1855. He was a railroad man back east and came to Nebraska to set up and run a saw mill in Brownville and Cass counties. His mother was from the MacPherson clan in Scotland. Other branches of the family tree trace back to New England. (I’m babysitting at Liz and Tim’s and don’t have the Ferguson database with me so I can’t be more specific. I should be fined by the genealogy police for not having that database here on my laptop!) Some of the names are: Ferguson, Dalrymple, Odgers, Hughes, Silkett and Hazen.

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