Incognito Needles

Equipped with certain tools that I deemed necessary for success in my quest to find granddaddy, I set off with enthusiasm. Then, I ran into my first haystack. This haystack was full of needles disguised as names.  You heard me, names. As I mentioned, I thought I had the proper equipment to begin a successful dig; however, when I got to the site, I found that I was ill equipped.

Let me explain. My equipment included the names of my paternal grandparents, Sandy and Bertha Foreman Robinson; and my paternal great grandparents, Mose and Luvenia Poole Robinson.  However, none, absolutely none, of these names were spelled the way I had imagined. I didn’t know who I was looking for, and if you don’t know who, you don’t know how!

You see, it was November 2003, five years after the death of my father and only days before his birthday. I had promised myself that I would know his family, so I sat at my computer and typed each name. Nothing happened.  Numerous and various names appeared but none familiar to me. Then, slowly the name Bertha appeared, but nothing significant or related to my Bertha. Defeated, I gave up with the promise to return when I could devote more time to the endeavor.

Thus, in August of 2011, I retired. My first priority after getting my baby girl off to the University of Alabama was to start my search again. This time my search was better. There in black and white were the names of my grandmother, Bertha and her family, but there It was again, that haystack of needle, incognito names. I never knew my grandmother’s mother’s name, and I’m not sure that I  know it now, but one thing’s for sure, I didn’t recognize this name at all.  The penmanship was, to say the least, different.  I don’t even want to discuss the other names in this blog – too much!  This was my first painful needle experience, but years of teaching English and reading thousands of essays had prepared me. I was determined to decipher the code before me; at least I needed to know the name of my grandmother’s mother.  To do this I needed something to compare. I searched each page of the 1900 Census for Indian Ridge (Anderson), Clarke County, Alabama to determine letter styles and patterns until  I was certain that the name before me was Emma! My great grandmother’s name was Emma Foreman.

Emma Foreman, head of Household

Emma Foreman, Head of Household

Feeling brave I entered Mose Robinson into the search box. There were no 1870 records nor 1880 records for Mose Robinson, but there he was in 1900, with a number of spellings for Mose and Robinson – Moses, Robertson (stick, stick).  I would not have been able to find that record had it not been for some family explorer who had braved the journey before me looking for Mary Robinson, the sister of my granddaddy. Therefore, the needles were not too painful until I started to look closely at the record. Who was Sovanus? That couldn’t possibly be my granddaddy! Then, I looked further, and at the end of the record I saw the name, Cathern Mosley, Mother. Whoa!!! Where did Mosley come from? I had never heard that name connected with my family before, and I  grew up with a town full of Mosley’s.  Who was Silva Pool? Where was the Olivia Pool that I had heard about all of my life?  Needles were flying everywhere. As a matter of fact, they were more like minute missiles, and I had to duck if I were going to make it through this trip. Oh well, time to call in reinforcements.

1900 Census Mose Robinson

Mose Robinson, Head; Catherine Moseley; Silvia Pool, Lodger

Looking for the Needles

I knew that to understand Granddaddy, I had start looking for those needles, and I knew there were going to be a lot of  haystacks to look through.  However, the option of not searching was not an option. I had to start the process. It was like a strong pull by some force that I couldn’t control.  I was both excited and fearful. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had to know. What if I discovered that I was not a Robinson? What if found out that I was really adopted? All kinds of crazy thoughts filled my mind. It didn’t matter; I had to know. When I was ten, I started to make my own clothes. I didn’t use a sewing machine. I used sewing needles to make them.  I quickly discovered that needles hurt. I would have tiny needle pricks on my fingers, and they would bleed on some occasions. What does this have to do with Granddaddy? Well, the process of finding Granddaddy has been just as painful, but I finally started the search. Why painful? I discovered that when you start to search your family history, you may discover things that are uncomfortable, information  in contrast to what you were taught, or new information unknown to anyone.  However, what has caused the most pain has been the refusal of family to accept the truth.  They would rather live a lie and  in darkness than to be free by knowing the truth.  Then, there are those who don’t want to know because it’s not coming from them.  It’s important that we know who we are and where we came from. We make the same mistakes over and over; our child fall in the same pattern, and they make the same mistakes that we tried to shield them from. Why, because none of us know who we are. Well, I’m on this journey, and I have decided that I am going to keep looking even if it causes some to be uncomfortable or angry.  I’ve accepted the fact that I may lose some family and friends along the way, but I’ve already found so many more – family that I never knew I had. I invite all of my family along for the ride. You may become a little shaken along the way, but I promise this is going to be a trip that you will never  forget!

Neddle In A Haystack

Finding out about granddaddy  is like finding a needle in a haystack. Hmmm. Why is it so difficult? He always had a mysterious air about him. Although a quiet man, he also could become quite agitated, especially about death, calling it trouble in the family. My parents told me stories of how he sold the family property because he thought that he was dying. Thousands, well maybe hundreds, of acres gone. He called all of the family together to see him off. Sisters, brothers, aunts,uncles, and cousins hastily arrived by train, bus, horse, and foot to see Granddaddy off to a better place. Hours passed, and Granddaddy lingered on. Into the midnight hours of the next day, it was obvious that Granddaddy was here to stay a little while longer. So, what really happened? Why did Granddaddy sell his land, leaving his children with nothing? The search continues.