Friday, May 09, 2008

My Family Line

Despite the fact that my surname is one that most people do not easily forget, and despite that I frequently get asked where my name came from, I have never really delved very deeply into my family history. Beyond information absorbed over the years by my grandparents, I have generally known very little about my family tree. Recently, however, I have started trying to do some online research, and have uncovered a couple of websites that have given me what appears to be a pretty accurate look through ten generations of my family. Unfortunately, I have gotten no closer to actually discovering the genesis of the name, but at least I can speak with a little bit of knowledge now about my ancestors.

From two different sources I have found, it would appear that my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was a fellow with the first name of Goodman. He appears to have been nicknamed “Gad.” My two sources differ on his date of birth; the earlier source has him born in 1616 in Leicestershire County, England, and I believe this is the more accurate of the two.

I have no information on exactly when or why, but Gad appears to have come to America sometime before 1646, and settled in Virginia. In that year, a record shows that he was paid 80 pounds of tobacco for digging graves. In 1653 he was the witness for a deed given to an apparent associate of his. In 1666, he was involved in a court case, and was awarded 40 pounds of tobacco. For someone who apparently began with the rather lowly job of digging graves, he appears to have become successful later in life. A record from about 100 years after Gad’s life indicates that he and his family had a 99-year lease on a plot of land on the south side of the Pohick Creek in what was then called Stafford County, Virginia. Today, this is in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Gad wife’s name is not known, but he had at least one child with her; this child’s name was Charles.

It is uncertain when Charles was born, but he died sometime after 1705. His wife’s name was Mary Cross. They had three sons: John, Charles, and Thomas. In 1705, Virginia records show that Charles and his wife Mary arranged for their youngest son, 16-year-old Thomas Cross (he had been given his mother’s maiden name for a middle name), to be apprenticed to a man named Captain Thomas Harrison. Just what this apprenticeship entailed is not clear from the record. He was to be apprenticed until the age of 21, at which time Captain Harrison was to discharge him, providing him with a “sute of apparel” and a “2-year-old heifer.”

Although both of my sources listed Charles and his father Goodman as the father and grandfather, respectively, of Thomas Cross, the more reliable and detailed of my sources pointed out that this information was given to him by someone from the Internet, and he has not personally researched it. Prior to receiving the information on Thomas Cross’s father and grandfather, this source had only traced the line back to Thomas Cross.

Thomas Cross was born on October 1, 1689, on the family estate at Pohick Creek. As mentioned above, he was apparently apprenticed to a Captain Thomas Harrison at age 16. The family was evidently quite well off, as Thomas Cross’s Last Will and Testament has him dispersing 33 “negroes” among five of his seven children. His two eldest daughters, Agnes and Sarah Ann, were not listed in the will at all, and one has to wonder if there had not been some kind of falling out. Among the five children who are listed in the will, each received a “feather bed and furniture,” as well as five or six “negroes.” Each of these slaves was named, with names like “Old Harry,” “Young Ned,” “Morning,” “Moses,” “Old Peter,” and “Young Peter.” To his eldest son, John, he also bequeathed a horse named “Shaven.” Finally, he dispersed money among his numerous grandchildren.

Thomas Cross’s youngest child, also named Thomas, had apparently died just a few months before the will was drawn up. In the will, Thomas Cross notes that his son’s wife is in charge of his son’s estate. This younger Thomas had married a woman named Temperance Whitlock, and their family had evidently moved to North Carolina, where the younger Thomas died. They had five children, the youngest of which was about 2 years old when his father died and when his grandfather (Thomas Cross) was drawing up his will. This child, named William, is referenced in the will of Thomas Cross as being eligible to take his share of the estate upon reaching the age of 16. His share included six slaves (“Tom, Dick, Blackman, Moll, Judah, and Patt”), as well as “three stock of cattle, sheep, and working tools.”

William, the grandson of Thomas Cross, was born about 1766 in North Carolina, where his father, Thomas, had moved the family. He married a woman named Elizabeth Jenkins. Together, they had ten children. About 1809, William and his family moved to Logan County, Kentucky. They are on the census sheets for the county in 1810. Thus, William and Elizabeth were the first ancestors in my direct line to live in Kentucky.

Their fourth child, and second son, was named Edmund. He was born about 1800, when the family was still living in North Carolina. He married a Georgia woman named Nancy Ann Miller. Edmund and Nancy had eleven children. Their first son’s name was John Clipper.

John Clipper was born on the 4th of July, 1822. In an 1850 census, John Clipper was listed as a “farmer” living in Butler County, Kentucky, with a farm worth $100. Despite being nearly 40 at the outbreak of the Civil War, John Clipper apparently volunteered, and was a private in “A” Company at Calhoun, Kentucky. He was discharged in 1864.

John Clipper was married twice. His first wife, Mary Watkins, was only 16 when they were married, and after having four children, she died at the age of 34. John Clipper married again a year later, this time to Rhoda Sarah Ann Hudnall. Rhoda was about 23 at the time, and John Clipper was about 45. Together, they had five children. At some point, they moved to Indiana, where John Clipper died in 1916 at the age of 94.

John and Rhoda

John Clipper and Rhoda’s eldest son, and third child overall, was named Luke. Luke was born in 1875, in Indiana, and married a woman named Amanda “Mandy” Andrews in 1900. They had nine children together – two daughters (the first died in infancy) and seven sons. Luke’s World War I draft registration card lists him as a farmer of medium height with a “slender” build. In a 1930 census, all seven sons were still living at home; also living with the family at that time was Luke’s brother, John, and Mandy’s father, William Andrews.

Both Luke and Mandy died in 1964, with Mandy outlasting Luke by about six months. Oddly enough, Mandy apparently died on December 25th of that year.

Of their children, the eldest was a girl named Thelda, who died at about 11 months. Their second child was a son named Rufus Coleman, followed by another son, Cephas, a daughter Clara, and then five more sons: William Montrose, Arthur, John Driver, Theron, and James Thomas. The two youngest sons, Theron and James Thomas, both died young, with Tom dying from an apparent stroke in 1945, and Theron succumbing to tuberculosis in 1946. The son by the name of John Driver was apparently given this odd middle name because he was the fifth son, and a family member told Luke upon John’s birth: “You’ve already got four mules, now you’ve got a driver.”

The fourth son, Arthur, was born on March 18, 1915. He married Ina Mae Ewing, and together they moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where they had four children. Their first child, a daughter named Laquita, died at birth. Fearing they would not be able to have children, they decided to adopt a child, Sheila Jane. Shortly after the adoption was finalized, and before Sheila Jane was born, Ina Mae turned up pregnant. As a result, Sheila Jane and her brother Arthur Ewing were only seven months apart, and were frequently mistaken as twins. Two peas in a pod, they grew up with the close companionship of twins, and remain the best of friends and confidants to this day. The intimate closeness of these two siblings is mirrored in the companionable relationship Sheila Jane has with her beloved sister-in-law, Dixie.

Seven years after Sheila Jane and Arthur Ewing were born, a third child came along: Byron Keith. Born in 1948, Byron Keith married Sonja Ann Kirby, of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Together they had two children, Elissa and yours truly.

My sister and I, and our cousins, represent the 11th generation since Gad came over from Leicestershire, England. Unfortunately, I am the only male grandchild of my grandfather, Arthur. So his branch of the family name will end with me.

The direct line of the family tree, through me, looks something like this:

Goodman (“Gad”) – Born 1616 in England, immigrated to Virginia sometime before 1646.
Thomas Cross – Owned over thirty slaves.
Thomas – Moved his family to North Carolina.
William – Born in North Carolina, moved his family to western Kentucky around 1809.
John Clipper – Fought for the Union in the Civil War.
Arthur – Moved his family from western Kentucky to Louisville in the 1930’s.
Byron Keith – Moved his family from Louisville to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1988.
Scott – Still pissed about that move.

Those 11 generations comprise nearly 500 years of my family line.


dan said...

Wow thats a very extensive list, I imagine that took quite a while to compile. Any credits to what kind of services or tools you used?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you discovered Leichestershire as the "home" of the Christmas family. I got an e-mail a couple of years back from an organization there that wanted to know if we wanted to participate in a DNA study of the Christmas family. By the time I got the news and responded, they had enough "samples" for their study and wanted to charge around 200 pounds sterling to get our DNA done. I opted out but have often stated to people sense that apparently the name starts in Central England, specifically Leichestershire (pronounced "Lestershire"). Now you seem to have confirmed that. The "twins" story is rich!

Scott said...

Dan: I simply did some internet research, and found geneaologies of my surname that others had already completed. I didn't actually do any of the research myself.

Kitten Bitch said...

I'm sure Aunt Shiela and Uncle Arthur would appreciate your characterization of their relationship. It's a good thing Memaw never had to tell them "don't be ugly, now!"

Serene Musings Books of the Year, 2005-2015