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Skeletons In The Family Closet
“Skeletons in the closet”…a phrase usually denoting someone has deep, dark secrets in their past they would rather keep hidden. If you dig far enough you’ll find most people have them. I discovered a few about my family.
It all began when I caught the "make a family tree" bug. I was watching a popular commercial on TV…you know the one where somebody discovers someone important in their family tree. It got me to wondering where I came from. Sometimes it’s best just to let sleeping dogs lie.
Of course, I knew nothing about making a family tree so I looked up several web sites to learn a little about it. I soon discovered it wasn’t going to be as easy as the lady on the commercial made it look. I lucked out and came across a genealogy forum. So far I had gotten nowhere with my short list of family names. I looked up forums on my maternal family name of Gregory. God must have loved that name because he sure made a lot of us!
I added my query asking if anybody knew anything about Gregory’s in Crawford Co., Arkansas. I really wasn’t expecting anyone to answer and was going to drop the project. A week later a Gregory out in Colorado e mailed me. It seems he was a 3rd half cousin and his family was from the same area as my kin folk. He had been working on the Gregory family tree for decades and it seemed I was part of a missing link. (watch the funny remarks, pal!). This guy had a database of family names that would put NASA to shame. All but a few…and this is where the skeletons started coming out.
Put on your thinking caps and grab a shovel because this is going to get a little deep. I have gone back a lot further than the generation I’m going to illustrate here, but this is where everything starts going haywire. Things were complicated from the beginning trying to find out who was who because my folks apparently had no imagination and kept naming everybody the same three names…William, Henry or Edward.
Once, a brother named his first born son after his older brother. Maybe it’s just my inbreeding here, but isn’t it “normal” for men to pass their name on to their first born son and name him Jr.? But that’s only a fragment of a huge puzzle.
It seems my Gregory’s actually came from Kentucky before migrating to the Ozarks around the mid 1840’s. It also seems every marriage begat a minimum of 11 children. It was the law.
The culprit in this story is a Mr. Thomas S. Kidd, born about 1812 in Ohio. He meets up with a Gregory family in Kentucky. Hard to avoid them since there were so many. He married a Nancy Gregory and they eventually follow some of her family to AR., settling in Crawford County. Nancy was part of a large family and had 2 other sisters. Mr. Kidd sired children by all three. In that era this just wasn’t done. Rumors as to whether they were Mormons have surfaced but no evidence has ever confirmed or denied it.
So, there they were, living in a devout Christian community with three families originating from the same man. Calculations indicate he had at least 17 children and possibly more. The human dynamo was still producing kids into his 70’s. Thomas Kidd’s occupation was unknown and he probably didn’t have one other than “Gigolo”. He never had time to get his pants on!
At any rate, all three sisters opted to keep their maiden name of Gregory instead of taking the Kidd surname. So technically our family line should be Kidd. This was probably an attempt to cloud the facts of infidelity from the strict Christian society in which they resided.
The three sisters were Nancy, Martha and Melinda. My line came from Melinda. Mr. Kidd only married Nancy so what does that make me? (I told ya to watch the remarks, fella.)
However, trying to put the family jig saw puzzle together has been difficult to say the least. The Gregory genealogy of my family actually came from the Scottish surname McGregor. If you know anything about English and Scottish history you would know the 1700’s were turbulent years. The English and Scottish were constantly embroiled in one squabble or another and finally England declared war on the McGregor clan. You didn’t want to be a McGregor in those times. It was a quick way to lose your life.
Therefore, many McGregor’s were forced to change their names. Many offshoots of the name originated such as Gregory, Gregor, McGriggo and so on. Some changed names more than once, so it’s been next to impossible to figure out who was who and when.
Anyone want to help me untangle the rest of this mess?