Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Name Game

by Debra DuPree Williams  @DDuPreeWilliams

I am a member of a private DNA-study page. On that page, a cousin posted about using names in a not-so-obvious way to find one’s relatives. In one of my lines, I have three Andrews in a row, my great-great-great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather, and my great-grandfather. It was difficult to distinguish between all of them. And, in my opinion, a middle name has been assigned to one that wasn’t truly his. But he did give that middle name to his son, my great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson, plus the family name. And that great-grandfather gave his name to one of his sons, thus creating a senior and a junior. Thank goodness, that wasn’t my grandfather. I think I would have been thoroughly confused by that point. Then consider that I gave the name Andrew to my second son as his middle name, long before I knew that any of my family members bore that name, let alone that I had three greats in a row and a great-uncle with that same name. Just way too many Andrews!

Naming Patterns
Back in Colonial times, children were named by conventional naming patterns. These patterns varied slightly depending on the country of one’s origin, but for the most part, this is what they were:

Males: First-born son was named for the father’s father
            Second-born son, mother’s father
            Third-born son, father
            Fourth-born son, father’s eldest brother
            Fifth-born son, father’s second oldest brother, or mother’s oldest brother

Females: First-born daughter, mother’s mother
               Second-born daughter, father’s mother
               Third-born daughter, mother
               Fourth-born daughter, mother’s eldest sister
               Fifth-born daughter, mother’s second oldest sister or father’s oldest sister

That was a lot of kids. Today, most of us don’t have that many. But back in those days, life expectancy wasn’t like it is today. Children often died in childhood. And complicating things in a way that we would likely not do today, if a child died, they would name the next-born child of that sex, after the child that had died. You can see why tracking one’s genealogical roots could be very difficult.

She's My What?
Back then, terminology had different meanings, too. An in-law was what we would today call a step relationship. In other words, it was a relationship created by the second marriage of one’s parent. Rather than your father’s new wife being called your step-mother, she would have been called your mother-in-law. Odd, huh?

If you are very lucky, your ancestor would have been given an unusual name, a name that would stand out in the pool of common names. Now, I’m not making fun of names here, I’m only telling you that you would likely have no troubles finding someone with an unusual name. In my family, we have a Keziah and a Keren-Happuch, both Biblical names, (Job 42:14).

Another genealogy page that I visit from time to time had these names posted this week. Mind you, these are their true names, they were not made up, Cancer Brain and Lung Cancer. There were others which were much longer. I could almost guarantee that you would be able to find these people in any search of a genealogical site.

Randolph David Miller, 1760-1790
Expand Your Search
When you are searching for long-lost relatives, don’t just look in the direct line. Look at the siblings
of your direct ancestor. Look at aunts and uncles. Even look at neighbors. If a neighbor was greatly admired, you may find your relative was named for such a person. In doing research on my husband’s Miller line, part of his mother’s family, I came upon a name that totally shocked me.

William Josiah and Rachel Wood Burdeshaw
My father’s mother was a Burdeshaw, the anglicized version of the French name, Bordajeau. They came to the New Bordeaux Huguenot Colony of South Carolina in 1770. From there, they moved to south Alabama. That is where I found them living in the same area as my husband’s Miller family. One day I found a Burdeshaw Miller. Upon further research, I discovered that this is the grandson of my husband’s three times great grandfather. Jim’s GGG grandfather had known my GGG grandfather. Each man was a minister and each  preached against slavery from their pulpits. They so admired one another that the surname of the one was passed to the other’s family.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned my family DNA-study page. It is a private group on Facebook. You should check to see if there is such a study under your known surnames. Ours has a wealth of information. 

Choose Wisely
I can tell you from personal experience that names matter. Think long and hard about the name you will give to or suggest for the next generation.

For whom were you named? Do you like the name you were given? What unusual names occur in your family? Do you have many ancestors with the same name? Leave your comments and share your story with us.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Second Mother: I Call Her Sissy

My Sister and Me, Easter about 1952
By Debra DuPree Williams

Mother’s Day has just passed. I wish that I had thought to write this prior to that Sunday. I can only trust that God’s timing is always right, even when it comes to what and when we write our blog posts.

You’ve read a couple of blogs about my mother lately. She was an amazing woman with so many talents and gifts. She left us far too soon. She was only seventy-three. But I have another woman in my life, a second mother, if you will. I call her Sissy.

My big sister Bobbie has been like a second mother to me all of my life. Our mother worked outside of our home, but Sissy was always there with me. She kept me out of trouble and made
sure that I knew I was loved.

A Real Stinker
Sissy and I, About 1960, Andalusia, Alabama
I don’t remember a great deal about those years other than what a real stinker I was. Bless her heart, I don’t know why she didn’t haul off and knock some sense into me when I mercilessly aggravated her. I’d hide behind the sofa when her boyfriends would come calling. That’s all I’m going to say about that, but if you ask my brother-in-law, he will tell you what a precocious child I was.

But all little girls grow up, and eventually, even the little devil-child did, too. When I became a teenager and began asking questions about spiritual things, it was Sissy I called upon for answers. She seemed wise beyond her years, even though she was just twenty-five when I turned eighteen. She had two little ones of her own by that time, but she always had time for me. Always.

College Years
When I went away to college, I didn’t always use the best judgement. It was Sissy who counseled me and who prayed for and with me. When I had papers to write for my religion classes, I always sought her input. I couldn’t have gotten through those classes without her deep faith and understanding of God’s Word.

When I met the love of my life and became engaged to him just one week later, it was Sissy to whom I first broke the news. Of course, she told me it was way too soon, but I think that today, after our forty-plus years of marriage, she will admit that she got that one wrong.

One Scared Mama
After the birth of our first son, I was scared to death. I do mean that. I had no clue how to care for a newborn. She flew all the way from Ft. Myers, Florida, to Birmingham, Alabama, just to  help for a few days. When Kenneth had to have his little feet poked day after day to make sure his bilirubin count was low enough, it was Sissy who held him while I stood in the hallway weeping for my precious baby and his poor little feet. She and I laugh now at the last question I flung at her as she exited our home to return to her family. “What if I kill him?” I’m happy to report that Ken is still alive and thriving and busy with his own family.

Packing Up and Moving South
When our Daddy lost his job in Dothan, Alabama, and my husband was feeling called to a new career, it was Sissy I called and asked what to do. She talked to her husband who called us the next day to say that he had found jobs for both Jim and Daddy. All we had to do was move to Florida.

Acting on faith, we packed up three little boys and all of our belongings. We left a church we loved and friends we treasured. It was all part of God’s plan, for five years later, at the age of forty, I became pregnant with our fourth child, Daniel. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy. I was confined to bed early on and could only get up for a quick shower or necessities. Jim had just taken a new job in Tampa, the boys and I were still in Ft. Myers. Sissy took me to all of my doctor’s appointments and helped to care for our boys when I couldn’t.

                                     My Writing Buddy
Sissy and I, March, 2017
Since I first felt the call to write, besides my husband Jim and our four sons, my biggest cheerleader has been my sister. She has been beside me through this writing journey, cheering me on, even when she was battling breast cancer. She brainstorms with me and is my alpha reader. I couldn’t have done any of this without her.

Yes, I’m thankful for my sister, my second mother, for all of the things I’ve said here. But most of all, I’m thankful for her love and guidance, for her prayers for me and for my children. On days when I’ve felt like giving up on many things, she has been there, a fierce prayer warrior, standing in the gap, praying for me and my family when I had no more prayers to give. I’m more thankful for her than these words convey.

When I was cleaning up my office and some files, I ran across this poem I wrote for her on the occasion of her seventieth birthday. I hope you will indulge my sharing it with you. It tells who she is, not only to me, but to our entire family. We are so blessed to call her family. I am blessed to call her Sissy.

By Debra DuPree Williams

Wise beyond her years
Blessed with the wisdom earned from a lifetime of listening to Him
Listening to that still small voice speaking volumes about who she was to be
What her one true calling on this earth should be
Always willing to follow Him Who knows her best

She is the fabric that holds the family together
The force that binds them as one
The keeper of the memories
The one who knows all the stories
She is the link to their past, knowing the names of all who came before them

She is the one who holds their hearts in her hands
Those same hands clasped together so many times in prayer
Prayers for her her husband, her children, her grandchildren
Prayers for their health, their safety, their happiness
Those hands that toil in the garden
That make garments from mere pieces of cloth
That prepare nourishing meals year after year
The hands that brush away tears
The hands that clap with joy over the smallest of accomplishments
She is the one who leads them to grace
She is daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother
The one who dares them to dream the impossible
She is their past, their present, their future
She has all their hopes and all their fears and all their dreams
Tucked safely away, within the shelter of her heart

She stands before them, knowing she has done her best
She has passed love, faith, pride, wisdom, courage, and strength to each of them
She stands before them,

Written for Bobbie Ann Dupree Foshee
The Foshee Clan
The Geenen Family

Thursday, May 11, 2017

It's Not a Coincidence, It's a God-Incidence

Indian Rocks Beach, Path from our Home There
  by Debra DuPree Williams

I quote Jeremiah 29:11 and Proverbs 3:6, to my children all the time. If they remember nothing else of their mother, I know they’ll remember these two verses. Both of these scriptures speak of putting your faith and trust in God and following the paths He has set forth for your life.

Childhood Dreams
I never dreamed of the places I’ve been or the relationships I’ve formed over the past four years. I’m talking about in the writing world. When I was in the seventh grade in Andalusia, Alabama, I began writing a novel. Every night before I turned off my lights, time was spent putting another chapter into my idea of The Great American Novel. Let me tell you, it was pitiful. But a friend waited daily to read what I had written the previous night. Thank you, Anne Evers Mount Brown. I don’t know what happened to that great achievement.

Fast forward over fifty years to 2014. My husband and I were living in Florida while we waited for the completion of our home in Asheville, North Carolina. I had pulled out my writing notebooks and began adding to the poems and children’s stories I’d written in years past. But I also began making notes about a young woman, Charlotte, who was interested in one of my great loves, genealogy.

You may have read about this in a previous blog, but since it ties in so well with what happened today, I felt it was worth repeating. In a phone conversation with my sister one day she told me to go look at the webpage of one of her favorite authors. I didn’t know authors had web pages. That is how ignorant I was of the writing world. But I did go view that page. By the way, that author was Lauraine Snelling.

I was browsing around her page and I came to a link to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference being held that next weekend out in California. What? California? Next weekend? There was no way I could do that. But I kept scrolling and she had a link to other Christian writing conferences, one of which was Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference which was being held in Asheville, North Carolina.

Maybe I could do that. But when was it being held? I had no idea. A click on the link took me to the web-page for the conference. Wonder of wonders, it was scheduled for the very week my husband and I had to be in Asheville for the electrical walk-through of our home. Coincidence? I say not. To me this was a huge God-Incidence. He wanted me at that conference.

Blue Ridge Mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Heading For 
The Hills
We packed our things and headed for the hills. (Those of you who know Asheville know it’s really mountains, but hills sounded better.) I got to the conference and knew absolutely no one. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but they gave us great handouts and information so we could choose classes wisely, and make appointments with publishers, editors, and agents. I was way out of my league. These people were BIG-time Christian authors. I just wanted to know if I even WAS an author. But I made appointments with the two teachers of the track I had chosen, children’s literature. They were Sally Apokedak and Michelle Medlock Adams. When each of them had encouraging words to say, I’m not embarrassed to tell you that I was in tears. This was life-altering, believe me.

This May will be my fourth year in a row to attend BRMCWC. In that time, I’ve switched to writing cozy mysteries. This past October,  my work-in-progress won several awards at the Autumn in the Mountains Novelist Retreat, also held in Asheville.

In the meantime, life goes on and I’ve been learning my way around the social media aspects of the writing life. This blog is a part of that. Now, let me tell you that all this techie stuff is hard for this lady. I’m not the generation for whom all of this comes easily. I’m blessed to have the best teacher out there, so I’m learning new things every week.

Just today I was making a meme. A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what that was, let alone create one. But now I can do it with ease. This meme is going to be posted on May 17th, and if you see it on Facebook or Twitter, you will know why that date. It has to do with Sir Francis Drake and a quote by him. I’ve written a blog about a song set to those lyrics. See my blog, Finish What You Start: The True Glory.  Here is the link to that blog.
Sunset at Indian Rocks Beach, 2015
Sunsets and God's Hand
The background for the meme is a photo I took at Indian Rocks Beach. It shows one of the beautiful sunsets we enjoyed on a daily basis during the three years we lived there. There is a main road which leads down to Indian Rocks Beach where we lived. That road is named Walsingham.

In researching the quote by Sir Francis Drake, I learned that his quote, which is on the meme I created, was written in 1587, off the coast of Portugal. It was sent to . . . Francis Walsingham. Now to me, this is just another God-incidence.

Many of the ideas which are now a part of my work in progress were fleshed out while we lived at Indian Rocks Beach. All of this is to say that God has had His hand in the direction my life has gone, since before I was born. The Bible tell us in Jeremiah 1:5 that He knew us before we were born. He knew the paths I would take. The novel written back in seventh grade, the poems written for my children, the picture books written for my grand babies, all were leading me to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Coincidence? Not a chance. God has had His hand all over this. I am truly blessed.

What God-incidences have you experienced? Tell us about one or two in the space below.