A couple months ago, one of my aunts on dad’s side started up a family history page on Facebook highlighting the maternal family line of my paternal line (dad’s mom’s side of the family). This sort of renewed my interest in genealogy, which had been a hobby of my aunt’s for some time. She did some in depth researching of both her and my dad’s maternal and paternal lines tracing each as far back as to before the respective lines came to the US before it was a country. The paternal side even goes back to the days of the Wars for Scottish Independence which seems to be where the Scottish that became Irish came in.
While looking through this stuff my aunt had been posting, it got me thinking about my great grandmother. My Nana, as I called my great grandma Scurlock, was a pretty cool lady who has had quite a few stories told about her younger days by her children and grandchildren. She was already in her mid to late 80s by the time I came into this life so never got to see her in her glory days but she was still sharp of wit and loved to tell us youngsters of the “good old days”. I also remember her telling me how she was related to some famous figures from “old west” stories. At that point though my almost teenage mind would go “Yeah right Nana, put down the brandy.” But those stories still stuck in my head after all these years. When she died at 98 years old, there was no internet quite yet so no way to ever verify her stories and of course dad and his siblings only thought of her stories as tall tales as well meant to entertain the kiddies and Nana’s children couldn’t or wouldn’t verify her stories either but then again, some of these figures were nothing to be proud of. A couple relatives apparently ran with outlaws like Billy the Kid, a soldier fighting alongside General Washington in the War for Independence (okay that one is pretty cool), and one in my direct line was a Civil War soldier on the losing side. The Civil War soldier was easy to believe as many American men of the 1800s fought in that war. I know not everyone is into the whole ancestry thing, but I sometimes think it interesting to imagine what life may have been like for people in certain eras.
So remembering my Nana’s stories, on a lark I did a bit of digging on a site called findagrave as well as ancestry (good resources for ancestry research) . Looked up the guy who ran with outlaw Billy the Kid who bore the same surname as my great grandmother and went back a few generations in that man’s line and found a common ancestor back in the mid 1700s. Well I’ll be, the dude is a distant cousin. Can’t be bothered with figuring out the math on which cousin how many times removed as that always gets confusing but sure enough the old woman wasn’t just spouting off tall tales. So moral of this tale is that unless you know for sure that an elderly loved one is totally senile, don’t dismiss their stories so easily and enjoy them because once those loved ones are gone, memories are all that are left. Out of the 3 great grandmothers I was lucky enough to know before their deaths, I remember my Nana the most.