Friday, August 07, 2009

It's A Family Affair!

(Or is that a "family of hair.")

I have this little addiction. Tiny, really. Annoying, but fairly harmless. It's genealogy. Look, no one is more surprised than I am. I don't care so much for my living family (immediate family, that is -- uncles and cousins notwithstanding). And yet, I have to carefully monitor my time on, lest I look up at the clock and find I've spent the entire day on the damn thing.

Why? Who knows? Maybe I'm looking for answers. Why is my father's family so freakin' crazy? Why is it so hard to find details on my mother's side of the family, almost as if they never existed? There is a dark secret on my mother's side, one that I'd heard of as a child, but was so undisclosed and tab00 that I thought later I'd imagined it. An uncle brought it up later, so I realized I hadn't. Whether it was true or false, it was something nice families didn't talk about, so was buried, apparently along with any census records of my grandfather as a child. I consider this odd, since, if you can find folks in the middle of a muddy field in Johnson, Kentucky, where my father's family hails from, it seems to me that the Carolinas can't be that difficult. They were part of the original thirteen colonies after all.

But I digress. This blog post is not about family secrets. I'd crash the internet if I revealed all of them now. As frustrating as the search is for old birth and death records, ancient marriage certificates and old census reports, every once and a while, someone from the other side sends you a miracle.

No, not that other side. The other side of the family tree. And tonight, this happened. I found a photo of my great-great great-great-grandfather, James Moses Sowards, born in Louisa, Kentucky, in 1814. Because Moses Sowards was born in a rural area, so very long ago, and under less than above-board circumstances*, I had to do a fairly in-depth search for his records. But, lo and behold, thanks to another branch of the family tree (God love the Mormons and their tradition of pedigree), I found this photo of James Moses Sowards.

A rather stern looking gentleman -- kind of gruff and set in his ways. I'd be willing to bet he was given to a certain amount of cantankerousness and curmudgeonly behavior. Let's see.... who does that remind me of? Hmmmm...

DNA is a mofo beyotch, isn't it? Lord ahmighty, as Moses might have said (if he was given to swear, that is, and only outside of earshot of his wife, Louisa).

Anyway, I'm posting this, then shutting off the computer and getting back to work on my housework before I become too engrossed again. May you never have to be confronted with your nuclear (paternal) or mitochondrial (maternal) DNA with the same "kah-THUNK" as I've experienced tonight.

By the way, I'm related to both of those old geezers. Thank God, I look like my mother.


* It's an open secret that his mother, Letisha Hall Sowards, was already widowed by 1810, and took up with Peter Ford, the local constable in Louisa, eventually giving birth to two sons, Moses and Lewis, who went off and propagated most of the Sowards you'll find in Utah, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas.

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