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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Circle is Complete

When I moved to North Carolina 'way back in 1967 I wasn't interested in finding my ancestors. I was interested in being a cool teenager, listening to rock music, and trying to make friends in a new town, in a new school.

In the 1980s I began to explore my family tree. My Grandma told me lots of stories about her life and what she knew about her family. I was hooked! Many years later, after working on her family (the Stewards, Lishers, Hendricks, and another Williams line -- more on these folks next post), I started researching my Mom's family.

Mom didn't know a lot about her ancestors, but the little bit she shared with me was all I needed to get started. Although all of my ancestors lived in Shelby County, Indiana, many came from other parts of the country. In my Mom's family, two lines came from North Carolina - the Kerrs who lived in Guilford County (about 30 miles from where I now live) and the Sanders who lived in Wayne County - about 5 miles from where my brother now lives in Goldsboro.

Learning that these direct family lines had once lived where I currently live took a lot of research and filling in many blanks. (I still have blanks!) Using Revoluntionary War pension records, the U.S. Census, and online sites (the US Genweb site for Guilford County was especially helpful), I slowly put the pieces of Mom's tree together. I travelled to assorted libraries in the area and found land, church, marriage and cemetery records. I learned that Mom's ancestor, David Kerr, was buried not far from an interstate highway near Greensboro (a road I travel frequently). Of course I went to the old cemetery at Alamance Presbyterian Church and found his grave. His grave was one of the oldest in the cemetery - David died in 1804. There were many other members of his family who were also buried there. It was a special experience for me to find David Kerr -- and then recently to find his son, William Kerr's grave, in Dearborn County, Indiana. (William was in the Revolutionary War and has a DAR marker on his grave stone.)

I'm sure this is not a unique experience, as many Americans move often. But, in my experience, finding the roots of my Indiana ancestors so close to home in North Carolina was completing a circle. It was very fulfilling to locate the graves of these two pioneers - one in North Carolina, one in Indiana.

Another interesting story of Shelby County roots in North Carolina must also be shared. My wonderful cousin, Kitty, has traced her Shelby County Plummer family to Davidson County, North Carolina. This is the county where I now live. Kitty lives in Henry County, but her family was from Shelby County. When she asked me to do some research for her, I used our library here, the courthouse, and another great library in Rowan County. We were able to discover a maiden name for her Briles ancestor and a copy of a will for her Plummer family. How rewarding it was to help her. Kitty is in her 90s and is still excited about her family history! I hope she will always be -- it is the experience of a lifetime.

I would like to add a note with this post -- I'm now available for research projects here in North Carolina. I know that MANY Shelby County families have roots here in North Carolina. If you are interested in contacting me, please use this email address: jw62002@yahoo.com. I have over 30 years of research experience and am very familier with many research facilities here in North Carolina.

Happy hunting!

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