October 05, 2009|
Once again October is upon us. As I celebrate this, Family History Month, let me begin by telling you a little about my family. My parents both grew up in small communities in Pittsylvania County. For the most part, my ancestors were not wanderers and stayed very close to where their forefathers had settled – most in the mid 1700s. A great number of my Daddy’s people – Hubbard, Fuller, Pigg, Mitchell, Blair, Aaron/Arnn, Wells, Grant, Witcher, Eanes – and my Mama’s people – Shelton, Ramsey, Zeigler, Angle, Bennett, Anthony, Woody – settled in this area before the current counties of Pittsylvania, Henry and Franklin were formed. When I was born, we lived in Museville not 3 miles from where my 6g-grandfather, Thomas Ramsey Sr., built his rock house upon settling in the area that would soon become Pittsylvania County. Each of my Ramsey ancestors had never lived much further than those same 3 miles from the location of that rock house.
In contrast, my husband, Mark, came from ancestors who tended to move more frequently than mine. His father’s great grandfather, William Harvey Hedden, was born in Georgia, moved to Tennessee and finally settled in southwestern Virginia. My husband’s great grandfather, George Washington Headen, left the coal mines to become an ordained minister. My husband as well as his grandfather, father, uncle and brother have all been ordained ministers. Mark was born in Cincinnati OH where his father was in college. The family had moved a number of times by the time Mark was 18 years old. His mother’s people – Lawrence, Christian, Woodall, Fuller, Shinault, Woodruff, Coe, Cockerham, Butcher - were from Surry, Stokes and Alleghany Counties in North Carolina.
Mark and I met while attending Roanoke Bible College in Elizabeth City, NC. We married and had three wonderful sons. I became interested in genealogy around 1999. Most of my early research was done on my family lines, but after several years, I began research on Mark’s family. One day I received an e-mail from a researcher whom I had been in contact with in Michigan. She was researching the Lawrences – one of Mark’s mother’s lines. I had read her note and started browsing through the information she had sent when I came across the name Woodall which I knew to be a surname found in Pittsylvania Co. The thought that crossed my mind was “Uh-oh, I hope this isn’t heading where I think it is heading”. Then, I moved back to the next generation. Now, I want you to take the time to go back and look at the list of names in my father’s ancestry and the names in Mark’s mother’s ancestry…..do you see anything interesting? Yep, there it is…Fuller! Mark is descended from Rachel Fuller who married William Lawrence in 1785 in none other than Pittsylvania Co. I dreaded going back any further….but I did. There it was…..Arthur Fuller was the father of Rachel. Since I had already done the research on my very own eight….yes, count them….eight Fuller lines….I knew they all lead back to Arthur. And there it was…..I am related to my husband…..VERY distantly mind you, but related nonetheless!!
So, what is the point of this little story? As you start or continue your research, always bear in mind that you might uncover some information or dig up some skeletons that aren’t what you expected. Make sure you are prepared for the truth before beginning to “dig”. Along with preachers, teachers and other upstanding citizens, you might find some thieves and murderers. You might find an ancestor who beat his wife like my 5th great grandfather, Isaac Arnn, or one in the state penitentiary like Mark’s 2great grandfather, William Harvey Hedden. Perhaps you will
uncover an illegitimate birth, mixed race or relationship to people you never expected….like your spouse or your best friend. Be prepared for these finds and take them in stride. Remember, the past is the past and it can’t be changed. The facts you find today don’t change who you were yesterday and who you will be tomorrow. If you think a family history with less than perfect people in it would upset you, then maybe you shouldn’t start digging. However, if you want to have some fun and some great stories to tell, grab a shovel (well, maybe a pen and paper would be better) and start digging…..I did and I don’t regret it for a moment!
Bassett Historical Center