Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Cherished Trip Anchored on Genealogy (Part 4)

I left off in the last entry toward the end of a 10-day trip with my Aunt Marilyn Sanchez, my father’s older sister. With her I set off on a four-state trip last fall where she’d introduce me to five second and third cousins I’d never met and their families. It was a fascinating trip that I really enjoyed.

We’d been to Dayton, Ohio where I met my Marilyn’s first cousin, Carole, and her family. I met Karen in Ashland, Kentucky. Her dad and Marilyn’s dad (my grandfather) were cousins. Then it was on to Frenchburg, Kentucky to meet Grant, whose paternal grandmother was a cousin of my paternal grandfather. 

Grant also took us to three different cemeteries where family members were buried. Grant and Marilyn pointed out a few headstones and explained who they were. I saw a lot of the same names over and over. One was Oldfield. 

I knew that Grant’s grandmother was an Oldfield and I knew that somewhere on my grandfather’s side there were Oldfields. My grandfather was born and raised on the Oldfield farm in Maytown, Kentucky, just outside Frenchburg. We visited the farm and made out names of a couple headstones (Dennie Oldfield and Martha Oldfield) on a little cemetery high a on hill on the farm, which is still in Grant’s family.

After we’d left Frenchburg and were settled in at our hotel for the night in Frankfort, Kentucky, Aunt Marilyn opened a bag she had in her trunk of more old photos and papers. She pulled out one rolled up piece of paper and said “You may want to look at this.” I was stunned. It was a handwritten family tree going back six generations to the 1700s. 

I couldn’t believe the treasure I had in front of me. Answers to so many questions I had were scrawled out on this long piece of paper. Aunt Marilyn and her late husband, John Sanchez, were very interested in genealogy. They’d traced back very far into the family. They’d visited England and seen the village where her mother’s family originated from before immigrating to the United States. She’d been to cemeteries in Virginia where some of our family’s early immigrants settled. This was all information jotted down from her first-hand knowledge and from what she was told to her by her relatives who had been born in the 19th century. This was the real deal - not something that was located online that may or may not be accurate. I was in awe.

I examined the family tree carefully trying to follow the lines and decipher the cursive writing going in several different directions. She had done it so long ago that it seemed to drop off around the 1970s. My name wasn't even included on it.

There was one relative who had 18 children. As I read on, I found where the Oldfield name came in. Rittie Oldfield, who was one of twelve children married Charles William Clark, was my great-grandmother. They were the parents of my paternal grandfather. It was in going back to Rittie’s parents, though, that led to my most exciting discovery. Read the conclusion of my trip in my next post.

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