December 9, 2012

Family Tree

A little over a week ago I got some sad, albeit not unexpected news, that my "Nana" Teresa had passed away. She was 96 years old. Teresa married my grandpa after my grandma had passed away. Her and her husband had been good friends with my grandparents and when it was just her and my grandpa left living, they got married. Teresa once told me it was just for the companionship and that he proposed to her by writing her a letter and asking her to think about it (getting married) and get back to him. So sweet and old fashioned, and humorously business-like. They were married for only five years before my grandpa passed away, but I am so glad that Teresa was a part of his life for those years, and our family's life for all the years after. I know they were happy together and I'm grateful for that.

When I heard about Teresa's passing I opened up our digital copy of our family tree. My grandma on my mom's side, Adelaide, put a lot of work into tracing our family tree. She was also a proud member of the Daughter's of the American Revolution and there are two traceable members of our family who served in the Revolutionary War. When she passed away in 1994 my Uncle took the reigns of filling in the gaps on the family tree and making it digital. He has shared the program (Family Tree Maker) with me, but still does a LOT of research/work into our ancestry. I have added Miles' side of the family and done some more research into my dad's family, but have really just enjoyed playing around with the program and reading about my family members from long ago.

I thought I'd share some neat facts about my family tree as well as some discoveries I made recently.

William Sayre is the furthest person we can trace on my family tree. He was born in 1512 in Bedfordshire, England. I took a print screen of all of William Sayre's descendants - to be able to see all of them on one screen I had to shrink it way down. The star at the top is William and near the bottom is me. I am his 12th great-granddaughter. You can see my little family to the right of the star (Miles and our two boys branching off from us).

This picture doesn't even show how extensive our family tree is and all the work that's been put into it. This only shows the decedents of William Sayre, but I can select anyone and view a tree of that particular family. It's really pretty amazing to look through.

I also learned that I have a relative (I am his 2nd great-grandniece) named Abraham Lincoln Gorsage. Interesting name, right? He was born in July of 1860 though and Honest Abe didn't take office until March of 1861. So who knows if his parents just were big fans of the presidential candidate at the time, or if it was just a coincidence.

When looking at our family tree I stumbled upon Find A Grave - which is a free website where people take pictures of headstones across the country and upload them and you are able to view where a person is buried. When searching on my dad's side of the family I found a lot of people we had never heard of, as well as some pictures of those relatives, including a picture of my grandparents that even my dad had never seen. I got in touch with a woman in California who had uploaded all this information only to discover that her husband shares the same great-grand parents as my dad, hence all her knowledge about my relatives. She has since sent me a lot of information and pictures of over three generations worth of family members dating back to 1814.

The below picture is of Sarah Melissa Hardin. She is my great-great-great-grandmother.

Sarah was one of eight children. When she was young her family moved west to California by way of wagon. In the documents I got from my California connection, I learned that Sarah's brother Isaac was scalped by Indians in Texas and when they got to Arizona her brother Ted, who was her twin, died of cholera. Throw in a snake bite or a wagon fire and this is real-life Oregon Trail! (which of course was real-life, but I'm talking about the video game we all grew up with). 

The next picture is that of my great-grandfather Harlston. He married Sarah's daughter Eliza. 

Harlston and Eliza, who went by Ella, had three kids; my dad's dad Harold, another son named Jack (who was in the FBI) and a girl named Ruth, my great-Aunt shown below.

I remember Ruth when I was young (she lived in Wilcox, AZ), yet I remember silly things like the fake fruit she had as decoration and plastic flamingos in her front yard. I also remember flattening coins on the railroad tracks with my brother and sister - because there just ain't a whole lot to do in Wilcox, Arizona people.

Anyway, I really could go on and on about all the little things I am learning and it's exciting to know there is so much more that has yet to be discovered. 

So, am I the only genealogy nerd out there? Anyone discovered any interesting or juicy stories from their ancestors? 


  1. How awesome that you have all of that! Peter's mom is a full-blown she's a member of all sorts of genealogy societies andvthey go on vacation to different places to do research. The last time they went to Europe they ended up in a German castle that one of their ancestors lived in. So very cool! It's fun to hear about all the new discoveries and developments every time we get together, it makes history come alive...I'm sure Finn will love to learn about soon too!

  2. My grandpa and dad are really into it too -- I have one particularly bad ass ancestor (Hannah Emerson Duston) who has a statue in Haverhill, MA. She was captured by Indians, then killed/scalped them and escaped in the middle of the night. I'm a direct descendant of her, I think she's my Greatx10 Aunt. Here's a link to the story (it's a pretty awful story really, I'd kill & scalp some people too if they did to me what they did to her):

  3. Sososo cool. Have you ever seen the show about celebrities who trace lineage? Pretty cool to have the money and resources huh? I'm totally interested in this. My dad was adopted so I don't know that much about his side but know a lot about my moms side. It's really fun and interesting.

  4. Sorry to hear about your Nana Teresa. She sounds like my late grandpa's special friend Maxine (whom I wrote about here:

    I'm pretty fascinated by all the ancestor stuff, too. My great-aunt Beth has done a lot of research on my maternal side (which is how I knew Eliza was an old family name--yay for the Elizas in history!). Yikes about the scalping. I was just listening to a podcast about settlers and the Comanche Indians. Brutal.

    Oh--and I hope you're considering Harlston for a baby name if Finn ever has a little brother...

  5. Love your genealogy stuff, though I'm sorry to hear what prompted your reopening the program.

    I thought your last m/c post was very poignant and I'm glad you decided to share. Society really needs to make this stuff easier and less isolating, so I do feel in some ways it's our duty, when we feel up to it, to share.

    A friend once said to me (after my first loss in 2008) that this kind of grief is sort of like walking around with a pebble in your pocket. It really never goes away - you'll always have that thing in your pocket - but as time goes by you notice it less and less. Maybe not a perfect analogy but I think right in some ways. I hope your pebble is feeling a little less noticeable these days.

  6. Wow, Caroline! I'm so late at reading these posts because your blog won't show up in my feed and by the time I think to visit it on my own, you've gone and written multiple posts!

    Keep it up. I'm totally intrigued and soaked in all of the words you had about your family. I have a great grandmother who is 97 and still alive. It scares me that she won't be for long.

    I'd love to get into this, but it's so overwhelming! I may have to make this my new hobby coming up here. Thanks for sharing all the amazing facts about your family.