Today is Thursday, October 30, 2014

POSTSCRIPTS Finding Cousins

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Since Freegift’s daughter is my grandmother I lose the Stout name quickly. So Andy and I are first cousins of some sort – I’m not sure about the designation, maybe six times removed? How much fun is that? 

Andy is not my first discovery however. In 1998 I went on a trip with the National Trust to tour historic homes from Washington, D.C. down the Virginia Coast. Our name tags had our name and our home state on them. A lady from Texas walked up to me and told me she was born in Tennessee. I asked where and she responded by asking me if I knew where Greenville is. She said she is from a small town nearby named Chuckey. Well. OK. I have ancestors who came from Chuckey. When I told her it was the Earnest family (late 18th century this time) she squealed and announced that Earnest is her maiden name. Geraldine Murphy and I both squealed and had to explain our excitement to the others!

We started talking as we both knew these families well. A man named Henry Ernst came to America in the mid 1700s from Switzerland. A son named Felix was one of 11 children and we both descend from him – she from his first wife (a son) and me from his second wife (a daughter, so again I lost the name early). The Felix Earnests “Americanized” their name and settled in upper east Tennessee before it became a state. A log fort/house they built is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and their farm is the oldest one family-owned farm in the state. Another relationship that I do not know the exact name for since we had the same great great-great-grandfather (Felix) but different great-great-great-grandmothers. Is that where you get into the “once removed” stuff? 

In the late 18th century Henry Earnest’s 11 children gave him 125 grandchildren – Felix had 18 children. Around 10 years ago an Earnest descendant in California who had collected data on just about all of them organized a “Family Reunion” in Greeneville and gave all of his research to the Genealogical Library there. He had the names and addresses of over 25,000 LIVING descendants. That’s probably not all of them, after all it started 300 years ago! Fascinating. No telling how many of my relatives are wandering about out there.

The last long lost cousin I found is not quite so clearly identified. In 1635 Barnabus Horton came to the colonies from England. He settled on what is now Long Island in a town named Southhold. There is still a portion of his home standing there enclosed in a museum. He had many children who had many more children (mostly named William and Henry!) and who scattered across the Eastern part of the continent.  Several came to Tennessee and became prolific here. My great-grand uncle was Gov. Henry Horton.

I was on a cruise and met this couple from Long Island who were named Horton. We struck up a conversation but he was not so knowledgeable on his ancestral history and we never did figure out exactly how he came to be. But he did know that he was related somehow to Barnabus Horton of Southhold.

If I had not worked on my ancestry, I would never have recognized these names and been involved in Finding Cousins.  It brings a whole new meaning to the saying “it’s a small world!”

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