Mysteries take time

Drucilla Stout
There is a cemetery in Counce, Tennessee ( Hardin county) on the banks of the Tennessee River. It's a place that three states touch each other - Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. My interest in family stories and history began there when my grandmother, Drue, would take us to the place she grew up. Sometimes we would visit White Sulphur Cemetery. She would take us to see the final resting place of many of the people she had told us about. "You are probably related to just about everyone who is buried here" she would tell us.

One of the oldest stones there is Drusilla Stout ( photo to the right). She was my grandmother's grandmother and we both have her name. My middle name is Drue. I've always loved the name. It's so old fashioned and southern. 

Drucilla's stone is also one of the most haunting looking stones in the cemetery. It just feels so OLD and mysterious. It sits on the edge of the cemetery, with the newer stones in the central areas... almost like it's receding out to a time we can't see.

When I asked, my grandmother told me that Drusilla was the mother of "Grandma McKinney" ( Martha Elizabeth Sanders) and her two sisters, Eliza and Josephine. She had been married to an unknown Sanders and they thought her maiden name was White. My grandmother had also been told stories about the hard life she had, marrying very young, becoming a widow, then marrying an Andrew Stout. He was a mean man, who abused his family. My grandmother did not romanticize anything. She had no tolerance for cruelty so she did not give even the dead a pass on that.

Grandma McKinney married William Hugh McKinney, who my grandmother adored. She told me that he was a delightful, funny man who made his family happy.

I've tried to push past the history on this stone to the right for a long time now. With census and records research, but I never really knew Drusilla's origins or family. I kept looking at all the White family records. I did discover that she always stated that she was born in Kentucky and her parents were born in Kentucky. Sometimes after a few decades people would just say they came from the state they lived in, but she stuck to Kentucky ( which helped me to finally figure it out)

I found her as a young widow in the 1870 census ( living with her Sanders daughters and a Solomon McKee, age 16 farm hand ) and I found her in the 1880 living with her mean new husband, Andrew Stout. I found her as widow to Stout in the 1900 and then as the widowed mother in law, living with Martha and William McKinney. But I couldn't seem to find her earlier, with parents. 

It turns out that I was just not seeing what was in front of me, because I was sure she belonged to the White family. Sometimes "facts" get in the way of the truth. So I finally tracked down Grandma McKinney's death certificate. It stated her father was a George Sanders and her mother was "Drew McKee". I had found a Drusilla McKee in the 1850 census of Hardin county, the right age, and everyone had been born in Kentucky. They lived in the same area as the Sanders family. I had dismissed it because in my mind I was looking for Drucilla White. It turns out there was a kernel of truth there. Drusilla's mother was Martha White, her father was Thomas McGee. They had all come to Hardin county in the mid 1840's from Whitley county, Kentucky. 

So now Drusilla has a complete history, I was able to push back the wall of time a little more and give her a childhood and even grandparents. I still think her stone is old and lovely. It turns out that George Sanders was an old man, born in 1801 who married the 19 year old Drusilla after his first wife died. She had been in their house ( as a helper?) in the 1860 census. The "Solomon McKee" who was living with Drusilla in the 1870 must have been a brother ( another clue right in front of me that I didn't see). So I have more of a sense of who she was and how she lived. It's a satisfying feeling, even though I know there will be more mysteries... It's probably what makes this research so addictive and interesting in the first place.

More family clones

posted Jun 13, 2014, 5:58 PM by Beryl Reid   [ updated Jun 13, 2014, 6:09 PM ]

When my aunt Nellie gave me the amazing photo of Drusilla McKee, she also gave me an old photo of my grandmother, Drue McKinney at the age of 15 or 16. I had never seen her in a photo as a teenager, only as a baby or older adult. This was one of the fuzzy "postcard" photos that were popular in the early part of the century. It was taken in 1926, when she came to live with her grandmother McKinney.

What is so striking about the photo is how much she looks like my younger sister, Melinda in the photo. Even my sister agrees that it is her face on the photo. Photo on the left is my grandmother at 15, photo on right is Melinda at about 8.

Nellie and Melba Shipman
In this photo pair, the image on the right is my mother (and of course, Melinda's mother at about the same age of 8. Pretty strong genes I think! ( girl on left is my aunt Nellie at about 10)

Drusilla has a face

posted Jun 13, 2014, 5:37 PM by Beryl Reid

As I said " Mysteries take time.." I recently visited my aunt Nellie in Tennessee. She casually mentioned that she had a few old photos that someone in the family had dropped off and she thought I might be interested in them. When I realized who was in one of the photos, my jaw dropped to the floor! It was a labeled photo of Drusilla McKee and her daughter, Martha Elizabeth Sanders. They are in funeral attire so it may have been around the time of the funeral of her second husband, Andrew Stout. On the back was written "Mrs. Bettie McKinney and her mother, Mrs. Stout. So now I actually know what she looked like! So here she is, in a photo, one of my mysteries .. coming in to clearer view.

Drusilla McKee was my grandmother's great grandmother. She was born in 1842 and died in 1912. She was in her 20s during the Civil War and outlived 2 husbands and raised three daughters. My grandmother, Drue was named after her and I was given her name as my middle name. But I never had any physical, visual  image of her. I had only seen her headstone ( very old and fading) and heard a few stories about her. Until last week....

An old pair of "genes"

posted May 9, 2012, 6:01 PM by Beryl Reid   [ updated Jun 13, 2014, 5:42 PM ]

Sorry for the pun. I hate puns, but this one was hard to pass on..

It's amazing to me as I look at old photos of family... to see my eyes staring back at me sometimes. My mother and I have the same eyes. I have the exact same body type as my grandmother. My gr grandmother looks just like my mother... it happens again and again. 

My sister Becky's son, Robbie, ( to me ) looks just like my father in his picture. ( second from left in header photo above - he was 15 in this picture. Compare the two below. My father never had the chance to meet Robbie, he died before he was born. But Robbie sees my father when he looks in his mirror, whether he realizes it or not. The funny thing is.. Robbie also looks just like his father and paternal grandfather... completely different genes. So we really are where and who we come from.. literally and physically. 

Robbie with a self portrait. Robbie with his dad, grandfather and uncle...

I am still always amazed when these glimmers of our parents, and their parents appear in our children. 

Brick Walls

posted May 9, 2012, 12:30 PM by Beryl Reid   [ updated Jun 13, 2014, 5:44 PM ]

You can't go through them, can't get past them and can't jump over them. In genealogy every one runs into at least some, sometimes more than some. The ancestor who slipped past all know record keeping. Managed to get born during a census year, like the 1890, which was lost to history by fire... then moved to the next location after the census taker arrived. Or the great great great grandmother who will forever be an "orphan" because her maiden name is never recorded.  It's these challenges that will either make you give up or get even more determined.

I have LOTS of unanswered questions in my own research, but a few stand out and have achieved gold plated brick wall status.

  1. Grancer Kindal Bazzell. He's the direct ancestor who was born in North Carolina in 1800, came "west" to Calloway county, KY with his kin, but managed to completely evade any records where it is recorded, or even hinted at who are his actual parents. So that line of Bazzell research has gone very sideways ( lots of cousins, second and ten times removed, all over the country) but not any farther back than Kindal ( as he was known).
  2. Andrew Johnson McKinney. He appears in the 1850 and 1860 census of Franklin county, AL, with his wife and family. He maintains that he was born in Missouri, which doesn't quite fit the other facts I have for him. I keep getting the nagging feeling that he isn't who I think he is.
  3. Drucilla White - I am named for her. She was my maternal grandmother's grandmother, born in 1840 in KY, died in Hardin county as Drucilla Stout. She was also married to a Sanders. I can't find her ( yet) in any census that will tell me who her parents were. I am getting closer on this one, though. I have found another family tree by someone who is naming her parents. This brick wall may fall before all the rest!
  4. On my father's side- his mother's grandparents Michael and Mary O'Leary came from Ireland during the time when so many were leaving Ireland. With common Irish names and no pointers to where they actually came from in Ireland. This can be one of the most stubborn brick walls of all, as most Irish researchers can tell you, the records are hard to find, aren't well indexed and many were destroyed. 
  5. On my father's side again. His maternal gr grandmother, Sarah McGee ( from Ireland)  married a Thomas Marsh. I know he came from Leeds, England, was born about 1835. That's as far as get. 
  6. On my father's side again... There are those unlabeled photographs of those beautiful people in their formal family portrait... who I have no idea who they are. I've been hoping to find anything that might show Isabella Francis Marsh ( daughter of the Sarah and Thomas above). She was my father's grandmother, but there are no labeled photos of her at all, anywhere.
If it was easy, I guess it wouldn't keep me in the hunt would it?

Making a tree available

posted May 8, 2012, 8:10 AM by Beryl Reid   [ updated May 8, 2012, 12:37 PM ]

There are a lot of genealogy sites on the web. I once heard someone state .."next to pornography, genealogy is the most widely used activity on the internet". When I was re doing my own site, I realized I wanted to make the research I've done available to family members and others who may be searching for some of the same people in their families. The best way to keep a really large family tree organized is with a genealogy program that can create a special type of file called a "". This is a file that is specifically designed to keep the sometimes complicated relationships among people in a family straight.

My own progam of choice, that I have been using for over ten years now, is called "Geditcom", by John Nairn. At the time I was starting back in 1999 there were very few programs for genealogy that would work on a Macintosh. I found "Geditcom", learned to use it, and loved it. I still do. John has kept it up to date and keeps adding great new features. He has also kept the price low, ($19.00)  so many can afford to use it.

After creating the family tree file in the program, you can export the special file mentioned above, ( .ged ) This can then be used by most good genealogy programs, both on a computer and online. The file is a standard for genealogy.

I have chosen to add my .ged files and family trees to one of the oldest and still free websites dedicated to family research. Rootsweb, although it is now owned by, you can still use it and view it for free. So if I put the family trees there, I can provide a link for viewing that family and others don't have to sign up or join to see. I hope they can continue this site!

Other sites may offer more "bells and whistles", but I don't need them really, when you can have a freely available tree to visitors... that's priceless!

New Look

posted May 7, 2012, 9:12 AM by Beryl Reid   [ updated Jun 13, 2014, 7:32 PM ]

After many years, my family history site is getting a facelift. I am re doing it with "Google Sites" - for many reasons. 

  1.  It was looking dated and tired.
  2. The family is getting bigger! I'm a grandmother now.. there were a lot of babies added to our family in the past few years.
  3. I was the only one who could add to it directly. Google Sites allows me to add trusted family to "editor" status, so they can add, update and share directly, from their computer and location, anytime they are connected to the internet. This family history is a big job, enough to go around!
  4. I'm a big "Googler" and Google Sites will play nicer in search results and connect to G+ directly. The tools on this page also allow me to easily and quickly add map snippets to items, so you can see "where" something took place. In genealogy, the "where" is as important as the "who" and the "why". 
  5. I like learning new ways to do things. So far, I'm impressed with "sites" and hope it continues to get better and better.

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