Full disclosure – I kept my maiden name so it makes perfect sense for me to refer to all of my female ancestors by their maiden names. And from a genealogical research perspective – wouldn’t it make life so much easier if all women kept their maiden names? So here’s a list of the women who made me who I am today with embedded lists of a few of their attributes. The list format works pretty well for the first three (me, my mother and my grandmother) but after that it falls apart. Since I began blogging to capture my family history – a list of ancestors seems appropriate for today’s assignment for Writing 101.
Kathleen Ann Kingsbury – B 20 October 1955 – ME – aka Kalen (a name I gave myself) – blogger, writer, mother, wife, friend, daughter, Girl Scout leader, camper, hiker, gardener, family history detective, lawyer, Virginian living in North Carolina, working every day to save a bit of nature’s beauty for future generations.Here’s where I work when I’m not blogging.
Cecil Gwendolyne Broski – B: 22 November 1933 – LOVE my mother’s birth date – 11/22/33. No excuse for not remembering that one! She is something else – smart, strong, independent, stubborn, a talented seamstress, HUGE sports fan, incredible athlete (in her younger days), accepting (in a way), opinionated, mentally and physically sharp but by her own admission – beginning to slow down a bit. I can’t wait to celebrate her birthday in Richmond in a few weeks. She was named after her father because my grandmother knew she wasn’t going to have anymore children.
Alice Louise Powell – B: 20 September 1911 – D: 26 March 2003. Nana is the woman who shaped all the loving parts of me – a perfect example of unconditional love. I knew how much I was loved, not by what she said or did but by how I felt when I was with her. We “got” each other. She had every reason in the world to be bitter, mean and cruel but she wasn’t. She didn’t have an easy life. She was the purest form of love that ever existed on this earth. Fantastic cook, beautiful gardener, master at Scrabble, fun-loving, giving and strong.
Mary Alice Hubbard – B: 16 April 1887 – D: 18 December 1968 – Although there’s a memory – it was formed before I was old enough to understand. I remember Nanny wearing black dresses with her white hair pulled back in a bun at the nape of her neck. She was heavy and had a speech impediment which made it hard to understand her. She smelled of talcum powder and moth balls – like an old lady. She lived with us when I was 5 or 6 but I don’t remember that. I do remember visiting her in the home for the Daughters of the Confederacy just off the Boulevard in Richmond. She had a bowl of hard candy called peach buds. If you sucked on one long enough you got to the soft chewy center. I have some of her “fancy work” – linen table scarves that were designed with hand pulled threads to form a pattern around the border. My mother says Nanny was a sweet, hard-working woman who deserved better than the scoundrel of a husband that she got in Thomas Greenwood Powell. I wish I could talk to her about what her father was like. I wonder if he ever talked about the Civil War?
Okay – that’s it for the women I remember. There are only two more that I know of for sure – meaning – I’ve yet to identify my 4th great grandmother (or anyone further back) – on my mother’s mother’s side of the family.
Great Great Grandmother – Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins who is the “oldest confederate widow” in my family tree. According to Nana she was not a nice person. So when the most important person in my life says that this lady wasn’t a nice person – I believe her. Ironically, my sweet daughter shares her name, but my Sarah was given that name because my husband and I both liked it and his two older sisters each have one of those names – Susan Elizabeth and Sarah Evelyn. Sarah was born in Cumberland County Virginia on November 8, 1852 and died in Richmond VA on November 23, 1932. She married WIlliam Hugh Hubbard, a civil war veteran who suffered from the after-effects of sunstroke that “prostrated him” on the march to the Battle of Cedar Run in August 1862. I know – it’s not very heroic, but sunstroke really did cause a lot of disability during the Civil War.
Great Great Great Grandmother – Sarah Ann Rebecca Warner B: 1829 D: 1923. I remember the day at the Library of Virginia when I was reading death certificates on microfilm and found the death certificate for Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins. That’s when I learned that her mother’s maiden name was Jenkins not Warner and I had to lop off a major branch of my family tree. Sadly it was the one that connected me to ancestors who settled Jamestown in 1607. There were great family stories about how two young sons who were saved from an Indian massacre by their mother’s quick thinking and good hiding places. Great family stories but not my family stories. Oh well – we all have “former ancestors” which is a perfect example of why it is so important to confirm information that you import from other family trees through your own direct source research whenever possible.
And that’s where the trail ends – once you get back to the census reports that only listed the man’s name (1840 and earlier) and you’re dealing with common names like Jenkins and Warner – it’s pretty hard to take it further back much further. I revisit the line periodically but usually end up frustrated and move on to another more fruitful branch of the family tree.
Well – it started as a list …