"I don't know anything about my family, other than my brothers and sisters, and my Mama and Daddy's names," my aunt by marriage, told me that June afternoon.
She gave me a rough list of her siblings names, and her parents names and their dates of death. I promised to see what I could find.
It was a long process. And I made zero ground with it!
Death dates, when searched through indexes, weren't showing the individuals who should be on them!
Until the last living sibling passed away in August and I attended the funeral. I picked up a funeral card by the door as I signed the guest book. And then it all began to make sense.
The siblings were all known to my aunt by their nicknames. Many of whom is all she knew them by as she was so much younger than they! Her own parents were only known to her by their nicknames as well.
I began searching simply one by one through death records and matching last names with the death dates, and then sought to prove that they were one and the same individuals, even if I only had nicknames to go by.
It was a tedious process.
You would think that you could simply take those death records and match them to birth records. Right?
Wrong. Although all of the children were born in the 20th Century, they were all, except for my aunt, born up in a "holler" at home. No doctor, no midwife. No birth records!
But what about Census records?
"Tug Holler" is listed as "No Enumeration" on 4 Census counts that I can find.
Oh yes. We're talking way up in the hill country! These were simple mining families that lived in shanty's on the side of hills and in hollows that never saw more than a glimmer of the light of day.
My aunts parents came from here. They never attended school. They were completely illiterate. Their children were the same, until their last born.
I finally got a break when I located one of the siblings death records that actually listed their parents by their true names, and not by their nick names. This lead to me being able to finally search through birth records for the "holler" and come up with the children, and the parents.
And with that information, I began working backward, and have now located back four generations for my aunt.
It is important for me to find this information, as she is the last living member of her immediate family.
I'll be giving her my findings for Christmas this year.
Santa was good. Real good!