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home : opinion : opinion August 15, 2018

8/17/2017 12:10:00 PM
No Time Like Now To Find Your Roots

Tammy Wilson
Guest Columnist

Genealogy knows no season, and there’s no better time to find your roots than right now, or, more specifically, Saturday, Aug. 26. That’s when I’m conducting my free genealogy “how to” program at Catawba County Library, 115 W. C Street in Newton.

The session begins promptly at 10 a.m. and is sponsored by John Hoyle Chapter, NSDAR. Everyone is welcome. We’ll meet in the auditorium on the ground floor, and we’re providing coffee and pastry as long as supplies last.

DAR, by the way, is Daughters of the American Revolution—one of the world’s largest women’s organizations. We’re a’ lineage society comprised of direct descendants of one or more patriots who aided the American Cause during the war for independence, 1775 through 1782. Our focus is support of historical preservation, promotion of education, and encouragement of patriotism.

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I am not a professional genealogist, but I have worked on my family tree since the 1970s. Over the years I have successfully documented one orphan train rider, six Revolutionary War patriots (plus one deserter), one proven 1812 ancestor and nearly 30 separate colonial lines in British America prior to 1701. I’ve done all this research myself, and I hope that my experiences can help you in your family quest.

As for deserters, most of us probably have them one place or another. Back in the early days, it wasn’t uncommon for farmers—and most Americans were farmers—to join up with a company until planting or harvest season. Then, they’d head home to tend to the business of supporting their family. After all, nobody else was going to do it, certainly not King George III.

Likewise, it wasn’t uncommon for soldiers to change their mind. My 3rd great-grandfather, George Miller of Kentucky, found himself on the frontier fighting Indians, not near the home defending Kentucky, as he was probably told when he signed up. I do know that in 1777 he had a wife and two young sons, one of them a newborn. I cannot judge him for what he did. I’ve never been in his shoes. The Revolutionary War was a hard-fought siege that could have gone either way. In fact, many “patriots” changed their allegiance to protect themselves, their families and their property. I cannot judge them either. They were, in fact, in the majority.

Finding truths such as this make genealogy so fascinating. It’s the stories that make this stuff so intriguing. Indeed, it takes all kinds to make a world, and it takes all kinds to make a family. Yes, even yours.

We’ll explore some essentials of searching a family tree, what to look for, what to do what to avoid. If you’re coming to the workshop, please arrive early to get a good seat. There’s no sign-up sheet, so it’s first-come, and I’m expecting a crowd. All you need to bring is a notebook and pen and curiosity about your family heritage. We’ll cover a lot of ground in two hours.

For those who have not used resources in the Evelyn Rhodes Local History Room at the library, it will be open on Saturday, so you may want to grab lunch and spend the rest of the day getting a head start on your research.

Expect to be surprised.

My George Miller served under Maj. Joseph Bowman, who was second-in-command during Col. George Rogers Clark’s 1778 military expedition to Illinois Country. Following the 1779 campaign and defeat of the British at Vincennes, Maj. Bowman was mortally injured in an accidental gunpowder explosion. He was the only American officer killed during the Illinois campaign.

Maj. Bowman’s brother, Capt. Isaac Bowman, who served with him and my George Miller. Capt. was my husband’s 4th great-grandfather.

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