I thought it fitting, after my last post, “the Snake” to follow-up with “the Shark.” Because sometimes, just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water…
I decided that the Andrews/Parks tree was just too big. Or to be more particular, had the potential to get too big. And confusing. Immensely confusing. The Andrews line goes back to Massachusetts…and beyond. The Parks line goes back to Virginia…and beyond. So between those two lines I’ve got potentially thousands upon thousands of entries.
Particularly in light of my recent revelation that I need to keep every single child and wife and husband of every single relative in the tree because I have this lovely family wreath that keeps turning in on itself.
Not to mention that I already have two Judith Harrises within 20 years of each other on two different lines. Potential nightmare as I almost merged them once already.
Now I know that there are some genealogists out there (genealogists or collectors? A blog for a different day…) who have massive trees of over 100,000 and are perfectly fine with that. There are some genealogists who prefer to have everyone on one tree because of the family wreath and they have just the one entry per person.
Given the lines I’m dealing with though, my mom’s parents might be related…back by, oh say, Charlemagne or something. So I’m not particularly worried about that.
So I now have a “Just the Andrews” tree and a “Just the Parks” tree. Don’t get me wrong..I still have the “One Tree to Rule them All” because it’s linked to my mom’s DNA results. But I now have these two bite-sized, convenient to use trees as well.
I’m running along, taking my time entering the data, too. Checking the details, trying to add pictures and newspaper articles as I have them…really fleshing out the skeletons to give these people life again.
I though there was nothing new under the sea. Honestly. At least on the Parks’ side. I mean, there’s a society for the Park(e)s. A group doing nothing but researching that family. Ages ago a distant cousin sent me pages of information on that tree.
Guess what? If you said I was wrong, you’re right!
Anyone who has read my last few blogs will know how reluctant I am to include non-directly-related family in my trees. I just tried so hard not to do it. There is a notable exception. She was the answer to a question I’d wanted to know for years, before I ever even dabbled in genealogy…
Where did my middle name come from?
It was my maternal grandmother’s middle name, who passed it on to her daughter, who in turn gave me the same middle name. It’s nifty. I like it. But I had no idea why it was given to my grandmother in the first place, or if it had any significance at all. Until I found Minnie Lee Varner.
Minnie Lee Varner was the third wife of William Columbus Parks. I’m descended from his second wife, Sarah Jane Clift. But Sarah died shortly after the birth of my great-grandfather (and his twin, who died around the same time as Sarah…I’m still trying to figure out which one died first. They’re buried together). Minnie Lee raised Samuel Howard Parks. And, traditionally, never had children of her own. That made me rather fond of her…and I felt I needed to honor her for giving her life to these children she didn’t bear but apparently loved enough that great-grandpa gave me her name…through his daughter, but still.
There’s an emotional connection there.
Then I got pinged on one of those evil shaky leaves. And I looked. I always look. I just try to keep my eyes open. And there’s a fellow by the name of William Rass Parks who, at least his family believed, was the son of Minnie Lee Varner and William Columbus Parks.
This is one big messy proverbial can of worms.
See, W. C. Parks, to the best of my knowledge died in 1882. William R. Parks, alleged son of Minnie, was born in 1915.
Umm…last time I checked, gestation only takes 9 months, not 33 years. And seeing as how William R. died in 1994…I’m guessing he wasn’t born 33 years earlier.
So…the possibilities are…in no particular order…
- Minnie Lee did have William R., but out-of-wedlock and told him that W. C. was his father. Possible, especially since her last name would have been Parks.
- WC didn’t die in 1882. Doubtful. Someone else would have caught that by now, I’m sure. WC was born in 1826 so I’d really doubt he’d be having children in 1915 if he were around. Not impossible but highly, highly unlikely.
- It’s a completely different Minnie Lee Varner. Unusual last name, but not impossible. Weird that she’d have married a William Columbus Parks but…I guess stranger things might have happened? Maybe? I know of at least three William Columbus Parks and there are Parks allllllll over the South (and North, for that matter). But Minnie Lee Varner is an unusual name…
- My favorite. That old standby…transcription error. Maybe she was actually Minnie Lee Warner or Harner or Horner or something completely different. I mean, James Haney was indexed as James Waney on the 1851 Canadian census and I’ve seen it Harney, Huney, and Harvey. The possibilities are endless. William R. did apparently name his son “William Columbus” who went by “Lum” but…yeah, like that’s a unique name in Texas…*sigh deeply*
- Something really weird and slightly shady happened. Like after W.C.’s death, Minnie Lee hooked up with another relative also named William Columbus Parks. Not impossible, and not technically incest…just shady.
And that list is just off the top of my head…
There is a part of me that rejoiced, at first, to see that Minnie did go on and have children of her own. There’s also a part of me rejoicing most mightily at this new challenge. But there’s also a part of me that realizes it’s quite likely Minnie had a bit of a hard life after W.C.’s death, no matter who she is or isn’t the mother of.
If genealogy is boring, you’re not doing it right.
Especially when there are sharks in the water…everywhere…especially where you least expect them. It’s never safe to go back in the water. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.