Saturday, August 18, 2012

An Unexpected Find

I have a rather large family tree of relatives from my mother's side. That is not surprising since her paternal line settled in North America in the 1600s. I was fortunate to have a relative in the early part of the 20th Century put together a chart of all of the descendants of Peter Stoutenburg he was able to find.

Around 2001 I discovered this chart and marvelled at how many people he had identified as descendants. So many of the people on the chart resided in places all across the United States and Canada. Air travel was nearly non-existent. Many didn't have telephones. The automobile was still a rarity and mostly seen in the cities. He didn't have the Internet.

As it turns out about the time that Walter Eliot put this chart together, there were a number of scams underway that resulted in thousands of people trying to prove his or her descendancy from some early settler in America. The scams were profitable enough that these con-men posted ads in newspapers across the United States and Canada.

Several family associations sprung up as result with members providing information about themselves and their offspring and parents. Armed with the information that Walter had gathered and published on his chart, I began using the information that, et. al., provides to subscribers, I started looking at the people on the chart that were at the end of the branch.

The availability of the images of the pages in the censuses through 1940 have allowed me to identify children and grandchildren of a number of people. I was following such a line when I learned the name of a child born about 1926. My distant relative married a man with a not very common name so her daughter carried that same surname.

I found her and her parents in both the 1930 and 1940 Census. Her name in the 1930 Census was different than her name in the 1940 Census. The daughter was 3 in 1930 and 13 in 1940, so felt that it was the same person.

Taking a chance that one name was her given name and the other her middle name, looked for her through a Google search. One of the links that Google returned was to a 1946 yearbook. This relative attended an all woman's college in Virginia. Hollins College. I had never heard of this college. It is located in Roanoke and is currently a university. It still only admits women to its undergraduate program but does admit men to the graduate program.

I also found her in the 1948 yearbook as a senior. However the most interesting thing that I encountered after viewing the pages of both yearbooks was a phrase on the title page of the 1946 yearbook. The page read, "The 1946 Spinster Where Singleness is Bliss, 'tis Folly to be Wives."

This phrase did not appear in the 1948 yearbook. My initial reactions was "Wow!" But as I thought about it, I think that it might actually be a play on words. It sounds a lot like Thomas Gray's phrase, "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." Nonetheless, I find it interesting that the yearbook editor used the phrase.