Friday, August 24, 2007

More Family Stories (or Myths?)

There were two interesting family stories told by my mother, who heard them from her parents and her grandmothers. Were they true?

1) Story: "My grandmother Georgia was French-Canadian."

Facts: My great-grandmother was named Georgiana (Kemp) Auble - she is "Mrs. A" in Della's Journal, and lived with Lyle and Emily (Auble) Carringer from 1920 until her death in San Diego in 1952. My mother thought that Auble (pronounced Aw-bull") was a French-sounding name, and put the two things together to form the story. Actually, the Auble's were German immigrants in the mid-1700's.

Georgianna was born in 1868 in Delhi, Norfolk County, Ontario - parents were James Abram Kemp (1831-1902) and Mary Jane Sovereen (1840-1874). Her paternal grandparents were Abraham James Kemp (1795-after 1881) and Sarah (or Sephrona) Fletcher (??) (1802-after 1861). Her maternal grandparents were Alexander Sovereen (1814-1907) and Eliza Putman (1920-1895). These Kemp, Sovereen and Putman families were Loyalists that had migrated after the Revolutionary War to Upper Canada, and eventually settled in Norfolk County, Ontario.

Typewritten data from a Kemp family Bible was found in the Huntington Beach Public Library in Orange County California several years ago. The Bible was given to Daisy Rader by John Evans Kemp (a great-grandchild of Abraham and Sephrona Kemp) and donated to the Southern Orange County Genealogical Society. This typescript provided the birth dates for Abraham James Kemp, Sephrona (Fletcher?) Kemp, and their children, and is the only source for Sephrona's birth date, and their marriage date in 1818. I have a typescript from another Kemp family Bible (but I don't have the Bible) with data for Georgianna's branch of the Kemp family.

The 1851 census for the Abram Kemp family shows his wife as Sephrona Kemp, age 44, Catholic, born in France). This family resided in Ameliasburg township in Prince Edward County, Ontario. I don't have any information about a Fletcher family that Sephrona might have come from.

All of the marriage records for their children show their mother's name as Sarah, except for one son which says Sephrona. Abram Kemp had at least 11 children at 2-4 year intervals between 1820 and 1847, and Gergoianna's father, James Abram Kemp, was the 5th child.

Conclusion: Georgianna Kemp's grandmother was probably Sarah (or Sephrona) Fletcher (?), who was probably born in Quebec in 1802. Georgianna was not French-Canadian, but her grandmother probably was.

2) Story: "Della Carringer's father was an inventor and a snake oil salesman."

Facts: Abbie Ardell (Smith) Carringer's parents were Devier James Smith (1839-1894) and Abigail Vaux (1844-1931), married in Wisconsin in 1861. Abigail (Vaux) Smith is "Ma" in Della's Journal. The DJ Smith family resided in Dodge County, Wisconsin in 1861, Taylor County, Iowa in 1870, Cloud County, Kansas in 1876, Pottawatomie County, Kansas in 1880, Red Willow County, Nebraska in 1885, and they owned a "ranch" in Cheyenne County, Kansas by 1885, where DJ died in 1894. Abigail (Vaux) Smith came to California and lived in Long Beach (with her sister Lizzie Crouch) and San Diego (with her daughter, Della Carringer) until her death in 1931.

I have written posts about DJ Smith and his patent for a harness rack and his patent medicine business.

Conclusion: The story is true based on all of the information I have.

One of my great regrets is that I did not start doing my family history research until 1988, well after my maternal grandparents, Lyle and Emily (Auble) Carringer, died. As a child and young adult, I did not pay attention to the stories told by my grandparents, and had to rely on my mother's recollections of their stories. Unfortunately, my mother was an only child, and my grandparents were only children, so there were no aunts and uncles from these families that might have been able to help with the family history when I did start doing research. The fortunate part for me is that my mother and grandparents had saved many family records that spanned four generations.

The lesson here is that it is imperative that family historians try to contact and interview the living family members as soon as possible, listen well to their stories, and encourage them to share their family papers for posterity. In many cases, family records or papers provide significant vital records and family history data for 20th century families - and are sometimes the only records available.

1 comment:

Miriam said...

You mother was an only child of only children! How lucky for her descendants that there is a family historian among them!