Wednesday, November 2, 2016

First Families of Ohio

First Families of Ohio (FFO) is a Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS) lineage society. "It is open to any member of OGS who is a direct descendant of an individual who settled in the area now encompassed by the State of Ohio by the end of 1820. Applications must first be approved by the appropriate lineage society committee and then by the Ohio Genealogical Society's Board of Trustees." 
First Families of Ohio
Ribbon and Pin

Today, I received an email from Margaret Cheney, the current President of OGS, informing me that my application had been accepted and approved for my 3X great grandparents John WILLIAMS and Lucinda Tillman (SARTAIN) WILLIAMS. I am very touched and humbled by this recognition. In fact, I am moved almost to the point of tears, even now. This emotional response has left me perplexed. Certainly, I thought my application would be accepted and that my research and my source citation would hold up to scrutiny, or I wouldn't have sent it in. So why was I so moved?

I replied to Margaret's email to thank her and told her of my reaction. This is part of her response: 

"It is a rather overwhelming experience to know that your hard work and research pays off with a form of recognition. I have had many people tell me the very same thing. You are in great company!"

So others have had similar responses. But something about this explanation just didn't ring true for me.

Later, I was sharing the news with my friend and co-worker, Lisa Rienerth. She repeated Margaret's words about recognition of my work but added "and it recognizes the contribution your ancestors made."

NOW, I get it! YES! I wanted that recognition for my ancestors! Because of what they dared and what they contributed and what they endured.

Picture of Johnson Cemetery of Gallia County, showing the
hilly country side. This cemetery is on a partially graveled,
very steep lane. Photo courtesy of Paul Clary on
They came to Ohio when it was still a wilderness. They came here seeking opportunity and cheaper land than could be bought back east. Specifically, they came to the Applachian area of Ohio in Gallia County along the Ohio River. It is still very rough country, with gravel/dirt roads and grass covered lanes. Rocky hills that are good for grazing animals, but not for producing crops. In the 1882 Hardesty's History of Gallia County, their son Elijah had this to say about those early days:
"They had to grind their own corn by hand, and had to grate and pound it to make bread; all the schools they had were supported by subscription; wild beasts were very plentiful, often destroying what little stock the farmers  had; game, such as deer, turkeys, and wild hogs was abundant." But they persevered. These days, Gallia County's biggest exports are timber and coal generated power. 

John and Lucinda had 11 children, most of whom grew to adulthood. In the 1800's, 20% or one in five babies would die before their first birthday.* They did lose two of their sons in the Civil War.

John lived to be 80+ years old, and Lucinda, 73. This at a time when the average life expectancy hovered around 40 years of age.* They survived the many epidemics that swept through the area, such as, cholera, smallpox, diphtheria, and typhoid fever. Additionally, Lucinda survived giving birth to at least 11 children at a time when childbirth resulted in death for many of her contemporaries. So they were hardy people who had a hard life. BUT THEY SURVIVED!

Not only did they survive, but they did well. By the time of John's death, he had already passed on a lot of his land to his sons and daughters, but there were still some plots and the "homestead" to be divied up to his survivors. And they donated the land that the Good Hope Baptist Church and cemetery still sits on today.

Good Hope Baptist Church
Family lore says that John Williams donated the land.

When I first visited the cemetery many years ago, John and Lucinda's original tombstones were still standing, blackened from coal soot, the inscriptions totally eaten away and unreadable. A few years ago on a return trip, the old stones were piled up under the branches of a bush and new granite stones had replaced them.

The replacement stone

Old discarded tombstones

So next April, I will attend the lineage banquet at the OGS Conference and I will accept the ribbon and pin. And I will be remembering John & Lucinda WILLIAMS. For that is what we do as genealogists - WE REMEMBER AND HONOR OUR ANCESTORS.

Next week learn how I could have done a better job with my application. (i.e. - learn from my mistakes!)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So amazing! Congratulations.